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NFL Draft

JuJu Smith-Schuster Surprisingly Re-Signs With Steelers

  • The Draft Network
  • March 19, 2021
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Following a season where his antics off the field garnered more attention than on Sundays, JuJu Smith-Schuster’s departure from Pittsburgh seemed imminent. 

Cueing my best Lee Corso impression, let me start by saying “not so fast.” 

According to Adam Schefter, Smith-Schuster and the Steelers have mutually agreed on a one-year, $8M deal that will keep him in the black and yellow for at least 2021. Surprisingly, Smith-Schuster took a pay cut to stay in the Steel City with reportedly two other higher offers from Kansas City and Baltimore.

The easy choice from an outsider’s view would be to sign with the Chiefs, right? The opportunity to work with Patrick Mahomes in a high-flying offense desperate for an intermediate pass-catching threat at just 24 years old seems like the ideal fit, but Smith-Schuster has decided otherwise, and it could have an after-effect for his future in the NFL.

Following a breakout sophomore campaign where the former USC Trojan totaled 1,426 receiving yards highlighted with 111 receptions—sixth-most in the league—2019 and 2020 weren’t as fruitful for the former second-round selection. With the emergence of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, Smith-Schuster was relegated as the primary possession receiver in head coach Mike Tomlin’s offense. Despite hauling in a career-high nine touchdowns last fall, Smith-Schuster dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season that resulted in him missing four games. He’ll now look to 2021 as a year of resurgence following his much-criticized social media antics that led to his regression as a weapon in Pittsburgh’s offense. 

However, social media aside, Smith-Schuster can play ball—he’s proven that. 

A former fan favorite for his daily bike rides to the Steelers facility, Smith-Schuster will now look to earn back much more than just the Pittsburgh faithful’s approval on a one-year “prove it” deal; his future within Tomlin’s offense and career as a pro could depend on it.

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