Juju Smith-Schuster Reveals More On What He's Looking For In Free Agency
By Jason Hall
February 19, 2021
Juju Smith-Schuster continues to express his interest in staying with the Pittsburgh Steelers amid his upcoming free agency if its within his best interests.
The 24-year-old wide receiver reiterated that he wants to play for a contender in 2020 and within the best situation for him to succeed, which will rely heavily on how much cap space the Steelers have during negotiations and whether quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns for his 18th season.
"I do want to play for a team that competes for the Super Bowl every year," Smith-Schuster told the Yinzhers Podcast., which also featured his mother, Sammy Toa Schuster, as a guest. "That's in the playoffs. Obviously, the Steelers are that. I do want to play for a great quarterback, not knowing what Ben's going to do. I do want to be paid a reasonable price for what I'm worth.
"In all consideration, I would love to stay with the Steelers. I would love to stay with them, but as of right now, we're just kind of up in the air, waiting."
Earlier this month, Smith-Schuster acknowledged that he "would love to come back" to Pittsburgh during an interview with FOX Sports Radio, but said he wants to be on the team that provides him the best opportunity to win while also looking out for his best interests financially.
“I’m always about winning,” Smith-Schuster told Doug Gotlieb via FOX Sports Radio. “I want to be on a team that is fighting and competing for the playoffs every year. As far as the business side and the money, I want to be paid for what I am worth. Obviously for what I do for the team particularly.”
Smith-Schuster told FOX Sports Radio he is prepared for the offseason and seems to be planning ahead, confirming there are "some teams" he is interested in.
“When you’re playing chess, you’re thinking four or five moves ahead and I have some teams in mind,” Smith-Schuster said.
The former USC standout recorded 97 receptions for 831 yards and nine touchdowns during his fourth NFL season, all of which have been with the Steelers, but gained just as much attention for his pregame and off-field antics. That included Smith-Schuster recording TikTok videos on opposing teams' emblems before games and publicly stating "the Browns is the Browns" before a blowout loss to Cleveland in the playoffs.
Smith-Schuster also said it "means a lot" that franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be willing to re-negotiate his current contract to free up cap space, providing the Steelers with more money to sign other players.
The 24-year-old said he'd "love to play with Ben for his time here" amid the quarterback's ongoing retirement decision.
Last month, Roethlisberger, 38, told the Athletic that he's "pretty sure" he wants to play another season and plans to discuss his current contract with the Steelers, which includes a $41.2 million cap hit.
"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," Roethlisberger told the Athletic.
The wide receiver commented on an Instagram post shared by Watt's former Houston Texans teammate DeAndre Hopkins, now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, which featured the former Defensive Player of the Year embracing Hopkins in a photoshopped Cardinals uniform with the caption, "Let's finish what we started..."
Smith-Schuster responded to the post with five laughing emojis and a plea for Watt to "come play with your brothers lol," in reference to T.J. and Derek.
T.J. Watt wasted little time recruiting his older brother, quote-tweeting J.J.'s address to Texans fans announcing his release with a gif of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson doing his "Just Bring It" taunt last Friday (February 12).
Watt once again quote-tweeted his older brother's acknowledgement of his upcoming free agency on Wednesday (February 17) with a gif of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka featuring the caption, "Please tell me more."
The older Watt brother's tweet was simply, "free agency is wild," amid numerous reports of teams being interested in his services.
T.J. wasted little time making public attempts to recruit his brother to Pittsburgh after J.J. was granted his release by the Houston Texans last Friday (February 12.)
Several fans also speculated that T.J. was making a pitch to his brother after J.J. shared a video of the Steelers outside linebacker shoveling his driveway on Thursday (February 18.)
The Steelers will have 19 players set to enter free agency on March 17.
Photo: Getty Images