The Pittsburgh Steelers have wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster back for at least the 2021 season, after the former second-round draft pick out of USC essentially signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the team after first being courted by a few other teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs. In a recent interview on The Michael Irvin Podcast, Smith-Schuster talked a little more about his free agent courtship.
Irvin asked Smith-Schuster if he had not chosen to re-sign with the Steelers, which team was he most likely to sign with. As part of that question, Irvin assumed that Smith Schuster didn’t want to sign with the Ravens due to them being division rivals of the Steelers. The Steelers wide receiver said it was more than just that.
“Yeah, that too and just looking at, you know, I’m curious to see how they’re going to be this year,” Smith-Schuster said, of the 2021 Ravens. “Having Sammy Watkins there [now], how they’re going to use him and throwing the ball and stuff like that. Lamar [Jackson] is in a really heavy-run offense, you know, with the backs that he has, and that’s just the point being facts. His number one target was [Mark] Andrews, who is a tight end.”
As for the Chiefs and their courtship of Smith-Schuster? Texting of photos played a big part in it, the Steelers’ wide receiver said.
“And I think just seeing K.C. and [head coach] Andy Reid was just calling me and then he was sending me Lombardi Trophy pictures, like constantly,” Smith-Schuster told Irvin. “And we had a good talk so it would have been K.C. after the Steelers.”
Irvin essentially asked Smith-Schuster to confirm that Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid indeed sent him pictures of the Lombardi Trophy Kansas City won a few years ago to entice him to sign with the team.
“Like, he texted [Lombardi Trophy pictures] to me while I was trying to make a decision, and you know I have so much respect for him and his team, so yeah.”
After re-signing with the Steelers, Smith-Schuster made it known that a lot of Ravens players were attempting to call, text, and contact him on social media in an attempt to recruit him. Looking back at the whole process now, however, it sounds like Smith-Schuster would be a member of the Chiefs now, had he not re-signed with the Steelers for a little less money.
“Baltimore, K.C., they’re all great teams, no doubt,” Smith-Schuster said. “These teams are playoff contenders every year for the next five to 10 years, and I respect that about them. Tee Martin was a coach at USC who coached me. He ended up going to the Ravens and he reached out and that’s how that process started. Lamar [Jackson reached out, the head coach called, Marlon Humphrey’s hitting me up. It starts getting serious when the players start texting you and hit you up like, ‘Yo, what’s up, bro? What we doing? Come win.’ All respect to them, and it was cool. But I think with me it’s more so staying home, staying loyal. In my situation, we have a new OC, Ben’s coming back, my relationship with my receiver coach, Ike Hilliard, is amazing. You can’t beat that.”