Barring the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signing wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster by Monday at 4:00 p.m. EDT, the team’s former second-round draft pick out of USC will at least make it to the league’s annual tampering period. At that point, Smith-Schuster will get a real good sense of where his current market value is. If he does make to at least the legal tampering period, Smith-Schuster figures to have quite a few suitors.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Smith-Schuster is expected to draw interest from at least the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Fowler goes on to say that Smith-Schuster re-signing in Pittsburgh is also a possibility.
Smith-Schuster made it to free agency a year ago, but he ultimately re-signed with the Steelers after reportedly entertaining serious offers from the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. Smith-Schuster’s contract with the Steelers last year was essentially a one-year deal worth $8 million.
A shoulder injury in Week 5 of last season wrecked Smith-Schuster’s 2021 campaign. While the wide receiver was able to return from the Reserve/Injured list to play in the Steelers’ Super Wild Card game, those missed games during the regular season were impactful.
In total, and not including the playoff game, Smith-Schuster logged 222 offensive snaps in the five games that he played in before suffering his shoulder injury. In those five games, Smith-Schuster registered all of 15 receptions for 129 yards and no touchdowns. He did have one rushing touchdown and nine yards on three total carries, however.
Smith-Schuster is obviously now looking for a long-term deal in free agency, but his 2021 season might result in him needing to sign another shorter deal, either one or two years. The Steelers would probably love to have Smith-Schuster back in 2022, but only for the right price, which might be even a tad less than they paid him in 2021. The Steelers’ quarterback situation on the heels of Ben Roethlisberger retiring might also play a part in whether or not Smith-Schuster wants to return to Pittsburgh for at least one more season.