The reason that JuJu Smith-Schuster received such low offers in free agency before re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers remains a mystery. But one Steelers insider has some troubling details on Smith-Schuster that may help explain why.
According to Steelers insider Dejan Kovacevic, Smith-Schuster’s health was a big reason there wasn’t as much interest as originally expected. Per the report, Smith-Schuster has been dealing with a nagging knee injury since the middle of the 2020 season.
Kovacevic noted that the injury was so bad that he would require almost regular drainings of fluid from the knee before games. He wound up sitting out several practices leading up to the Steelers’ playoff games against the Browns because of it.
Smith-Schuster didn’t miss any games in 2020, but he didn’t exactly have his best season. He had 97 receptions for 831 yards with a career-low 8.6 yards per reception.
What *really* happened to JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency? A source shares the first information I’ve heard that makes sense. That portion of today’s column is open to all:https://t.co/y3GtdmQtaT
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) March 24, 2021
If true, it’s incredible that the Steelers were able to keep such an injury under wraps for so long. Even more incredible that the rest of the NFL was too in the weeks leading up to free agency.
Lingering injuries can kill a player’s free agent value almost as quickly as off-the-field incidents.
The end result was a one-year, $8 million “prove-it” deal for JuJu Smith-Schuster and few offers that even reached eight-digits.
But if he can get healthy before the start of the 2021 season, Smith-Schuster may be able to prove to the Steelers and everyone else that they made a mistake in not offering him more.