We have a little less than 30 minutes remaining until the NFL’s legal tampering period gets underway and as of the time of this post, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster remains unsigned and thus still slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. EST. After prepping fans of his on social media Sunday that he might be signing with a new team soon, Smith-Schuster has apparently now told his Steelers teammates that he won’t be back with them in 2021 as well.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network on Monday, Smith-Schuster has told teammates that he’s likely to sign elsewhere in free agency.
“As far as Juju Smith Schuster, I heard Peter [Schrager] connect him to the Raiders ,there are going to be a number of teams in on JuJu,” Garafolo said. “The Steelers want him back. Ben Roethlisberger definitely wanted him back. But JuJu you had that poll last week where he was asked on Instagram, is he going to stay or is he going to go, or that’s what they were asking the public and JuJu voted and he said, ‘yeah, not likely to return.’ He is also telling teammates, I can tell you, that he is likely to head elsewhere for the next portion of his career. So it doesn’t look like JuJu Smith-Schuster will be back in Pittsburgh.”
We should know soon if Smith-Schuster will have a deal in place in a hurry with another team as the tampering period begins at noon EST. The Steelers obviously have until Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. EST to re-sign Smith-Schuster, but it certainly isn’t looking like they’ll will as of right now.
Smith-Schuster, the Steelers former second-round draft pick out of USC, caught 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns in the 16 regular season games in 2020. In the lone playoff game against the Browns, he caught another 13 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. His average depth of target in 2020 was just 5.8 yards, however. During the regular season, Smith-Schuster played 923 total offensive snaps and another 87 against the Cleveland Browns in the team’s playoff game. Smith-Schuster did a great of getting tough yards after the catch in 2020. He was also a more than adequate blocker.
Smith-Schuster’s free agent market value is expected to be around $16 million to $17.5 million.