You may have heard of opinions being compared with various things over the years, the most notable being something in particular that everybody has—in other words, any one person’s opinion may not hold special value, given how common they are. One can readily find an opinion about any subject you can imagine.
One man’s opinion may not account for much, but if that opinion is shared with many others, it becomes something more than that. And a lot of people this offseason do seem to think that the Pittsburgh Steelers got a good deal in re-signing wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year contract worth $8 million. Count Gregg Rosenthal among them, writing for NFL.com:
So many of the best signings of the last week were re-signings. There is no mystery as to how Smith-Schuster fits in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers know better than any team the 24-year-old receiver is more than worthy of a one-year, $8 million contract. The Steelers valued JuJu so much they reportedly let another starting veteran (cornerback Steven Nelson) look for a trade out of town to make room on their cap-strapped roster.
It seems like JuJu is among the most misunderstood players in the NFL. Yes, Antonio Brown was right that his ex-teammate isn’t a true No. 1 receiver. But if you need someone to make a tough grab over the middle, block in the running game or break a tackle to pick up a first down, there are few more capable than Smith-Schuster. He has the reputation of a diva because he’s good at social media, but his play would fit in any era of football. With QB Ben Roethlisberger presumably in his final year in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ offense may as well go for it.
Personally speaking, I don’t think we can really judge whether or not Smith-Schuster is “a true number one receiver” based on the past two years, as there are a lot of caveats involved, including his being injured for the vast majority of the 2019 season and playing with backups. The Steelers also used him in a very peculiar and unconventional way last season that makes his output look incredibly inefficient, yet he finished the year with a career-high nine touchdowns.
Since entering the NFL in 2017, the former second-round pick ranks 13th in the NFL with 308 receptions, 15th in receiving yards at 3726, and tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with 26. While he might not be putting up top-10 numbers, he’s certainly outperforming the top receiver on half of the league’s teams.
After signing his one-year deal, Smith-Schuster said that his plan is still to be in Pittsburgh for the long haul. That means a lot more coming his way. But if the Steelers want to make it worth their investment, they’re going to have to find better ways of using him than they have the past two years.