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: Is JuJu Smith-Schuster somehow going to end up back in Pittsburgh?
We are now entering day three since the official start of free agency, though formal negotiations began a couple of days prior to that. One of the most notable storylines so far has been the slow-moving and unremarkable wide receiver market, which continues to see some of the biggest names like Kenny Golladay and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the outside looking in as far as contracts are concerned.
That doesn’t mean that they haven’t gotten any calls or offers, of course. Golladay is actually entering day two of a visit with the New York Giants, for example. There have been reports about interesting in Smith-Schuster as well.
There have also been suggestions that the 24-year-old could still end up back in Pittsburgh despite the odds, due to the salary cap. The Steelers would have to open up more space just to get him under contract under just about any realistic deal, though that could be done—and an eventual restructure for Stephon Tuitt is pretty much a given, anyway.
Smith-Schuster has said a number of times that he would like to stay in Pittsburgh if they could work something out. That’s something that probably the majority of free agents say, however, and obviously it often doesn’t end up happening. He understands the Steelers’ salary cap situation, and from the sounds of it, he’s been pessimistic about it happening. But if the market is really this week, maybe Kevin Colbert turns around and thinks he can get in there and make a deal.