Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Zach Banner chimed in on his offseason status on Sunday as the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent said he is going dark on social media until he signs a new contract. That post on Instagram resulted in another Steelers soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, replying in the comments and it was a sad response at that.
“I wish I can get one [a contract],” Smith-Schuster replied to Banner’s post.
— Steelers Depot 🎄 (@Steelersdepot) March 1, 2021
That response by Smith-Schuster obviously means that the Steelers young wide receiver has yet to work out a deal with the team that selected him in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of USC. That’s not surprising overall, however, and especially with the Steelers still over the projected cap number, which right now likely sits somewhere between $180 and $185 million.
Smith-Schuster is expected have a market value of around $17 million this offseason and that will make it very tough for the Steelers to re-sign him this offseason unless they fully guarantee the first two years of his deal to keep his 2021 cap number extremely low.
The start of the 2021 league year is on March 17, which is now less than three weeks away. The Steelers are currently figuring out what to do with the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They are also expected to restructure another contract or two in the coming weeks. After those tasks are knocked out, they will then likely turn their attention to a few of their own unrestricted free agents they wish to sign.
Should Smith-Schuster ultimately become an unrestricted free agent on March 17, he figures to have plenty of teams interested in signing him. The Las Vegas Raiders and New York Jets are expected to be at least two teams interested in signing Smith-Schuster, who has said several times this offseason that his wish is to remain in Pittsburgh in 2021.
“Yeah, for me, I’m always about winning,” Smith-Schuster said a few weeks ago during a radio interview. “I want to be on a team where we’re fighting, where we’re competing for the playoffs every year. As far as the business side and the money, I feel like I want to be paid for what I’m worth, obviously, for what I do for the team, particularly. And then again, it all makes sense to bring in Ben [Roethlisberger] and to have a quarterback who I can play with for the future.”