The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The re-signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster is more likely after Ben Roethlisberger’s pay cut.
Explanation: While we don’t not the exact circumstances of the discussions between the Steelers and Roethlisberger, it’s likely that he was sold the idea that taking less money would help the team keep some of the roster together, and it’s been reported that he wants the team to keep Smith-Schuster, who is a pending free agent.
While the full $5 million savings won’t be reflected in 2021 but rather will be spread out over the ‘life’ of the contract (including void years), that still represents an additional savings that the team otherwise would not have had.
On top of that, it is likely that there were discussions held about how the money would be used as Roethlisberger accepted the terms of the new deal. He doesn’t have anything more to prove, nor is he hurting for money, so it’s reasonable to assume that he has some expectations that the cap relief he helped provide the team will help him win another championship.
Keeping around your most trusted and most reliable wide receiver would seem to be a good way to go about doing that. Outside of Antonio Brown—and perhaps even including him—there might not be a wide receiver he had a better rapport with.
The additional savings that come from the $5 million pay cut are very marginal, and certainly would not be the difference between retaining a high-market free agent and letting him walk. If the Steelers re-sign Smith-Schuster, it won’t be because of that—the restructure itself had far more to do with carving out the cap savings this year.
But the reality is that unless Smith-Schuster is willing to take a rather team-friendly deal, trying to keep him would be too cost-prohibitive. They simply do not have the cap space for it, no matter how badly anybody wants him to stay, even if it’s Roethlisberger…who is likely only to be here for one more season anyway. You’re not going to sign a guy for five years for a guy who will only be here one more year.