The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
Next up is wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cody White.
Position: Wide receiver
Years with the Steelers: 5
Years in the NFL: 5
Contract Status: Free agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with void years remaining. $5.6 million dollars is due to count toward the 2022 salary cap.
Games played in 2021: 5 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 5 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 222 (offense), 1 (special teams)
PFF score: 58.0 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats (regular season): Smith–Schuster had 15 receptions on 28 targets for 129 yards receiving and three carries for 9 yards and one touchdown rushing.
Notes: Most Steelers fans were surprised to see Smith-Schuster back with the team in 2021. While it was disappointing to see JuJu lost with a shoulder injury in Week 5, coming back for the postseason was significant as no one would have blamed him for shutting it down for the season. With very limited years of service across the entire Steelers offense, Smith-Schuster would be one of the key offensive leaders should he return in 2022. Last year it appeared unlikely, but this offseason there seems to be a little more hope.
Position: Wide Receiver
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2022
Contract Details: $825,000 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers nothing in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 15 regular season
Games started in 2021: None
Snaps (regular season): 77 (offense), 105 special teams
PFF score: 60.1 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats (regular season): White had five receptions on six targets for 33 yards and four tackles on special teams.
Notes: White started the 2021 season on the Steelers practice squad and used his two elevations for the season early on in Week 3 and Week 4 due to injuries within the position group. White was brought to the 53-man roster in Week 5 due to another injury at the position and it was unsure how long he would stick on the roster. With JuJu Smith-Schuster going down in the game, White remained with the Steelers through the rest of the season despite very limited use on offense. Under contract for next season at the league minimum, White will have every opportunity to fight for a roster spot in 2022.
So what do you think? How would you conduct Smith-Schuster’s and White’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:
Ben Roethlisberger & Najee Harris
Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner & Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor & Dan Moore Jr.
Robert Spillane & Buddy Johnson
Montravius Adams & Isaiahh Loudermilk
Joe Haden & Tre Norwood
Christian Kuntz & Pressley Harvin