The pickings can get slim in the early stages of the offseason when there isn’t much going on, and not a lot of people talking, and that can get even more complicated when you throw a pandemic on top of the usual relative silence.
The advent of technology and social media, however, has given us more opportunities to hear from players, who make their own time to communicate with the fans. Earlier this week, for example, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster helped christen a new podcast through Steeler Nation called Yinzhers, with their first episode streaming on the 17th. His mother was a guest on the show, and he appeared in the latter stages of the show.
Obviously, the whole discussion wasn’t just about football and his future, but the podcast hosts did ask the pending free agent about his future and what he’s looking for. While he didn’t say anything revelatory, it is the latest on where his mind is when it comes to heading into his next chapter.
Ideally, I do want to play for a team that competes for a Super Bowl every year, that’s in the playoffs. Obviously, the Steelers are that. I do want to play with a great quarterback, not knowing what Ben’s gonna do. And I do want to be paid a reasonable price for what I’m worth. So, in all consideration, I would love to stay with the Steelers. I would love to stay with them. But as of right now, it’s just kind of up in the air, waiting. It’s like playing chess, waiting to see where the pieces go. And from there, I’ll decide, but it’s always good to have your legacy in one place, and obviously playing for the Steelers, that’d be awesome. It’d be tremendous. As of right now, I’m still a Steeler, until I’m a free agent, so free agency is March 17, and until then, no other teams can offer me anything.
As far as Roethlisberger goes, the interesting thing here is that if Smith-Schuster is looking at his long-term future, Big Ben isn’t going to play a major role there. At this point, it’s difficult to see Roethlisberger playing beyond the 2021 season, and even if he does, it won’t be much longer than that.
So if Smith-Schuster, for example, were to sign a four-year contract to remain in Pittsburgh, it’s very likely that he would spend at least half or more of that contract without Roethlisberger. Whether or not he returns to play this year can only be a very small consideration of his future.
I did think it was interesting that he said that he said he wanted to be paid “a reasonable price”. Reasonable when it comes to top-level NFL salaries is obviously relative, and he could just be saying that in this particular environment, but it is perhaps an indication that he might be willing to take a more team-friendly deal with other considerations involved.