Juju Smith-Schuster Makes Free Agency Decision

By Jason Hall

March 19, 2021

Juju Smith-Schuster is returning to the Steel City.

NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti reports Smith-Schuster has agreed to a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was reportedly a "massive paycut to return" over "larger deals from divisional rivals and Super Bowl contenders to accommodate Pittsburgh's tough cap situation."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed the deal was worth $8 million and Smith-Schuster had "better offers" from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.

Pittsburgh recently had its cap lowered by $15 million after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed to a restructured contract last week, dropping his salary from $19 million to $14 million in the final year of the deal.

Smith-Schuster confirmed his decision in a series of tweets on Friday (March 19) afternoon.

"Can’t say it enough, I love you Pittsburgh," Smith-Schuster tweeted. "Came in here a young 20 year old and you guys embraced me from the moment I got here. So much love. Had my back thru everything, all the struggles and success. So hard to leave. See you this Fall in Heinz WE’RE GOIN CRAZY!!!"

Last month, Smith-Schuster told the Yinzhers Podcast 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 Roethlisberger's decision to return for his 18th season.

"I do want to play for a team that competes for the Super Bowl every year," Smith-Schuster said. "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."

Smith-Schuster also told FOX Sports Radio it "means a lot" that 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, during an interview in February prior to the new deal.

The 24-year-old said he'd "love to play with Ben for his time here" prior to the quarterback's decision to return.

Smith-Schuster also said he "would love to come back" to Pittsburgh, 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.

Photo: Getty Images

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