It has been a frustrating few seasons for JuJu Smith-Schuster wearing the black and gold. His stats and targets have fallen off of a cliff since 2018, and that frustration seems to be peaking in 2021.
After Ben Roethlisberger overthrew the receiver on a pair of walk-in touchdowns Smith-Schuster let out a rare outburst on the sideline spiking a Microsoft tablet into the turf. The negative outburst is not something you ever see from Smith-Schuster, as his reputation off the field is just as important as his reputation off if it.
This past week following the incident CBS Sports uploaded a graphic of NFL stars who could be on the block come the trade deadline and Smith-Schuster’s name was featured prominently on it.
This past offseason Smith-Schuster became the Steelers first receiver since Antonio Brown to sign a second contract. Of course the deal was just one-year long and chalk full of voidable years. In doing so the organization spread a lot of the money into the future. The positives for JuJu to sign this deal are most prominently he got to keep his positive image across the Steelers massive fan base. This means his media career, which will likely make him more money anyway, will go unharmed. A trade away from the Steelers would also keep Smith-Schuster’s reputation intact so long as he doesn't publicly request one. But the receiver is too smart to do something like that.
A trade might make a lot of sense for the Steelers too; however, the asset in return would be minimal for a receiver on an expiring deal with poor stats. The Steelers could get out of those voidable years and put money into starting this rebuild in 2022. The way the deal was structured the Steelers would have $5.6 million in cap charges into 2022 for Smith-Schuster despite him becoming a free agent once again. Getting that money on someone else’s books could help the Steelers make more significant moves like finding Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement.
If the Steelers continue to lose, then getting a deal done would make a a lot of sense. Especially with the Steelers next two opponents, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, having their starting quarterbacks questionable and out for both games. If the losing continues, dealing Smith-Schuster would be smart future thinking business move for a team on the cusp of a rebuild.
But what do you think? Do you think the Steelers will trade JuJu Smith-Schuster? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.