The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen many of their free agents leave to find new homes in the NFL. Players like Bud Dupree, Tyson Alualu and Mike Hilton are all calling a new team home. But one big name had yet to sign with another team.
That name was JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The longer Smith-Schuster remained a free agent, it seemed as if the chances were greater he would potentially return to the Steelers. Low and behold, Friday afternoon Smith-Schuster decided to stay in Pittsburgh, turning down offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs to do so.
This from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network:
See what Smith-Schuster said himself on his verified Twitter account about returning:
This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!! pic.twitter.com/SPFvCLUmFl— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) March 19, 2021
So what did Smith-Schuster turn down to come back to Pittsburgh? According to NFL Network’s Taylor Bisciotti, the deals were as follows:
Sources tell me these were the other offers— Taylor Bisciotti (@TaylorBisciotti) March 19, 2021
KC 8 mill with 3 mill incentives
Steelers 8 mill
Baltimore 9 mill 4 incentives
Additionally, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Eagles were also in the mix with a larger contract.
JuJu Smith-Schuster also turned down more money on a multi-year deal from the Eagles than he took to return to the Steelers, per source. The Eagles’ were a secret suitor. But Smith-Schuster loved Pittsburgh and its fans too much to leave. https://t.co/X8gitZYxwd— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2021
The return of Smith-Schuster might be viewed as him signing a one-year “prove it” type deal. With the salary cap dipping to $182.5 this year, it is safe to say Smith-Schuster is betting on himself to play well, and earn more money in 2022 when the salary cap is expected to balloon up over $200 million dollars.
In his four years in Pittsburgh, Smith-Schuster has seen his role tweaked as the wide receiver room has changed. Taking a league by storm his first two seasons, Smith-Schuster earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2018 when he had 1,426 receiving yards on 111 receptions. After an injury riddled 2019, as well as missing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in receptions in 2020 with 97. His 831 receiving yards last season was third on the Steelers behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, and his nine receiving touchdowns was tied with Claypool.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the remaining time in Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.