The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
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: Will JuJu Smith-Schuster be back with the Steelers in 2021?
Out of all of the (many) players the Steelers have who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in about two months, four-year veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is probably the most high-profile name, at least if we exclude the injured Bud Dupree—or perhaps even if we don’t exclude him.
Few players in team history have had the sort of production that he has over the course of his first four seasons in the league, though he has never had the sort of meteoric rise that was suggested by his sophomore season. His efficiency numbers over the past two seasons have also left something to be desired.
Regardless of what a possibly small but certainly vocal segment of the fan base thinks of him on a personal level, now that he has drawn their ire over dancing and pre-game remarks about opponents, the Steelers are likely interested in bringing back their most stable producer on offense.
Whether or not they can even swing the money it would take to keep him is another question, but the reality is that they only currently have three wide receivers under contract for 2021, and none of those three have given indications that they are able to be ‘the guy’, at least consistently.
Pittsburgh ordinarily has one wide receiver that they pay big money to, but they haven’t since trading Antonio Brown. With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in the pipeline—who more players that fans have issues with—they may pass on Smith-Schuster being that wide receiver.