The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to have a pretty significant mass exodus of talent in free agency in 2021 the likes of which they have not seen in several years. With Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Mike Hilton, and others all hitting free agency at the same time, it’s impossible for them to keep all the talent around. Many of the names listed above, if not all of them, will be in another uniform next year.
Smith-Schuster is likely one of them, a reality the Steelers have been preparing for by continuing to draft wide receivers—James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool so far, with surely more to follow.
That said, the 23-year-old continues to say that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, and I’m sure if asked the Steelers would say the same thing. It’s not impossible to get a deal done, but it would be difficult to say the least. Nevertheless, he continues to operate under the assumption that he will remain in Pittsburgh unless or until he’s somewhere else.
And no matter where he is, he recently told Bryant McFadden that he wouldn’t mind a reunion with his former college quarterback and USC teammate, Sam Darnold, who is in his third season with the New York Jets—and not doing particularly well at the moment.
#SteelersNation how would you feel about Sam Darnold as a potential Big Ben replacement when that time comes?
JuJu Smith-Schuster definitely seemed interested in reuniting with his old college QB
Listen 👇 #InternationalPodcastDay #AllThingsCoveredhttps://t.co/ob1wd3acAI pic.twitter.com/SQBKe2af0S
— Bryant McFadden (@BMac_SportsTalk) September 30, 2020
“I played with Sam Darnold in college. He was a great player, led us to a Rose Bowl and ended up winning it in a shootout against Saquon and them”, he told the former Steelers cornerback. “There’s no doubt that he has the ‘it’ factor in him. The NFL is a lot different now, schemes and all that other stuff. I think it just takes time. I think his time is coming soon. Right now, I think it’s tough”.
“That’s my guy. If we could get him to Pittsburgh I would love it, but I love Ben, so it is what it is”, he added. When McFadden pressed him on if that was an invitation for him to come to Pittsburgh to follow Roethlisberger, he said, “I’m just saying he’s a great kid. I played with him, so he’s one of my boys, so I wouldn’t mind playing with him again”.
The 0-3 Jets have not gotten great play from Darnold so far this year, completing 59 of 96 pass attempts for 562 yards with three touchdown passes to four interceptions. There have been reports that the Jets are not happy with him, and vice versa, leading some to speculate that they might part ways.
Some have even apparently suggested that the Steelers should trade for him, which is of course a patently ridiculous idea. Let’s just put it this way: if Smith-Schuster is playing with Darnold, it’s unlikely to be in a Steelers uniform, at least for another several years.