A hot topic of debate during the Steelers offseason has been whether Pittsburgh will re-sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster before he hits free agency in March.
Typically, the club handles contract negotiations the season before the player hits free agency. While there are still a few weeks to get a deal done, it’s not likely to happen.
Apparently, there has been no discussion between the Steelers and JuJu’s camp about his future in Pittsburgh.
We need only to look to history for the answer as to why there have been crickets. Hines Ward and Antonio Brown are the only two guys the Steelers have signed to second contracts, and the chances of Smith-Schuster being a rare exception are slim.
Here are three reasons why the Steelers will not re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster:
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Football is, first and foremost, a business. And the Steelers have shown it’s their business to replace high-priced receivers with more affordable ones without risking production. Hines Ward and Antonio Brown are the only two receivers they’ve inked to second contracts in recent history.
Receivers are expendable
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Money doesn’t grow on trees, but wide receivers do. The Steelers have a pedigree of (mostly) excellent wide receiver drafts. As has occurred in every draft since 2012, a rookie receiver will come into the fold in April.
Johnson, Washington, Claypool
(Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)
If Smith-Schuster doesn’t outperform his 2019 season, the Steelers will gladly show him the door without batting an eye. They currently have three young guys who have the talent and skills to be just as good, if not better, than Smith-Schuster. Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Chase Claypool will each move up a spot on the 2021 depth chart, and JuJu will be all but forgotten.
An uncertain future for JuJu Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh