The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What is JuJu Smith-Schuster worth under a long-term contract extension signed later this year?
While I wouldn’t race to place any bets on it, it is possible that the Steelers not only negotiate on but agree to a new contract with JuJu Smith-Schuster later this offseason. He is entering his fourth year and, as a non-first-round pick, this would typically be the time that the team gets extensions done with core players they view as being long-term fixtures of their team.
A second-round pick in 2017, it didn’t take Smith-Schuster long to not only win over fans, but to win a starting job, finishing his rookie season with 917 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He topped 100 receptions and over 1400 yards the following year and made the Pro Bowl, vaulting his name into the conversation as one of the league’s best young stars.
Then came the 2019 season, plagued by injury, both for himself and for Ben Roethlisberger, which decimated his numbers. Not only did he himself miss four games due to a knee injury, which he continued to be limited by in the games played after, he played the season up to that point through a toe injury suffered in the opener, among other ailments.
Aside from the Steelers’ salary cap situation, it was this dip from last season that really has the road map for his future in a state of uncertainty. Smith-Schuster might not even want to sign an extension this year so he can improve his stock and hit the open market, or at least raise his price, and probably be given the franchise tag.