Despite hauling in 97 receptions in 2020, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster appears to be on the outs with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And even the team’s official website is starting to acknowledge that.
On Sunday, Bob Labriola of the Steelers’ official website posted an analysis of their wide receivers heading into 2021. The team acknowledged that “turnover” is likely and said that Smith-Schuster is unlikely to accept what little the team can offer given their limited cap space.
“Smith-Schuster is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 17. And despite his pronouncements on social media that he wants to continue his career with the Steelers, he’s unlikely to want to accept what the cap-strapped Steelers would be able to pay him on a new contract,” Labriola wrote.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to command a contract worth eight digits per year at least. But the Steelers have less than $5 million in cap space right now, per OverTheCap.com.
As a result, reaching a deal with Smith-Schuster is – as Steelers.com pointed out – “unlikely.”
When it comes to their WRs, the #Steelers almost certainly will lose JuJu during free agency and spend a draft pick on one – preferably a speedster – but what the current group needs to develop is consistency and maturity. https://t.co/vtGCKaTMU1
— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) March 7, 2021
JuJu Smith-Schuster has been great for the Steelers since being taken in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 after leading the team with 1,426 yards.
But despite taking over as the No. 1 receiver in 2019, Smith-Schuster’s production didn’t stay at that Pro Bowl level.
Smith-Schuster had 42 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games in 2019, then doubled his output in 2020.
Someone is bound to give JuJu Smith-Schuster the money and long-term contract he wants this month. But it probably won’t be the Pittsburgh Steelers.