Dulac: Market ‘Worse’ This Year For JuJu Smith-Schuster, ‘Good Chance’ For A Return To Steelers

It’s been eerily quiet around Pittsburgh Steelers’ free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster after two days of the legal tampering period.

Though Smith-Schuster has had reported interest from the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers insider Gerry Dulac stated in his Steelers Chat Wednesday that Smith-Schuster’s market is “worse than last year” and that there’s a “good chance” the free agent wide receiver makes his way back to Pittsburgh for the second offseason in a row.

“His market is worse than last year,” Dulac writes. “I think there’s a good chance he will be back. I think it’s a good move to do so.”

Retaining Smith-Schuster for the second offseason in a row would be a big win for the Steelers, especially if the price is right around the same dollar amount it was in 2021, maybe lower.

Though he’ll be returning to a Ben Roethlisberger-less team, Smith-Schuster would bring a reliable, steady veteran presence to a wide receiver room that has been through the ringer on and off the field in recent seasons. That leadership is extremely valuable, especially for guys like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, especially Claypool who dealt with a ton of adversity in his second season in the NFL.

Smith-Schuster definitely seemed open to returning following the Wild Card Round loss to the Chiefs, telling reporters he’d love to stay “four more years.”

“Honestly, it would be a blessing,” Smith-Schuster said to reporters after the Chiefs loss when asked if he’d like to remain in Pittsburgh, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “You know, I love the city. I love the fans. I love coach Tomlin. I love the coaches, my teammates, players, everyone…the media side to the training room. It’s been unbelievable. My career here has been amazing.

“It would be nice, you know, to stay here and to play with these guys again, same coaches and everyone,” Smith-Schuster added. “So yeah, it would be nice to stay for another four years.”

Of course, Smith-Schuster has also flirted with other teams throughout the offseason, including the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. The Steelers know his true value, though.

The Steelers have certainly never closed the door on a Smith-Schuster return in 2022, for what that’s worth, as GM Kevin Colbert didn’t rule out re-signing the veteran receiver once again. Speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, Colbert commended Smith-Schuster for battling back from the shoulder injury and stated that the Steelers “admire” him overall.

“We always admire JuJu, we think he’s 32 and he’s 26,” Colbert told reporters. “He’s that veteran in a very young room. What he did at the end of the year, coming back and putting his free agency issues aside, said I’m going to try to help win a playoff game, it was huge.

“We take that into account and we really give him credit for having done that. So JuJu’s been a great player for us. He’s still a young player as well. So we’ll definitely take that look.”

That look could result in another year together in the black and gold for the Steelers and Smith-Schuster.

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