The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering their first season in the last 19 with the quarterback position up in the air. Future first ballot Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger retired in January, after 18 years of leading the Steelers. Now, while Brian Flores adds his elite expertise to the defense, general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have to figure out what to do when it comes to the game’s most important position.
While that’s of the utmost importance, having weaponry for your quarterback of choice to throw to is vital as well. That’s why bringing the talented wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster back is crucial.
If tonight is the last ride at home, I have to say thank you to one of the best QBs in NFL History for welcoming me into this league, helping me grow, and being there for me in every step of my career. It’s been an honor to catch passes and take the field with you.
Thank you, 7! pic.twitter.com/YsL53rfpfE
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) January 3, 2022
Steelers insider Mark Kaboly discussed the importance of the Steelers re-signing JuJu, who had over 1,400 receiving yards and made the Pro Bowl in 2018. Smith-Schuster was limited to five games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
If JuJu wants to be a No. 1 target, then stay in Pittsburgh.
“Would they be willing to do more than a one-year deal with Smith-Schuster?” Kboli said. “This is for sure: He wouldn’t be willing to come back on a one-year deal. Even though he was hurt the majority of the season, he showed that he’s quite important for this offense.”
Schuster just finished playing on a one-year, $8 million deal after the team declined to use the franchise tag on him. Now he’s in the same position entering free agency.
A huge reason for Schuster returning on a one-year deal last season was playing with Roethlisberger in the future Hall of Famer’s final season. So, keeping JuJu around this time will probably take more than a one-year deal. He’s been mentioned as a solid fit for the Kansas City Chiefs, among other teams.
Been waiting 8 months for this weekend. LET’S GO! pic.twitter.com/yl3xsa2iBn
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 10, 2021
Schuster Says He Wants To Return To The ‘Burgh’
Following the team’s (42-21) playoff loss to the Chiefs, Schuster talked about the chances of him being a Steeler next season.
“Honestly it would be a blessing (to stay in Pittsburgh),” JuJu said. “I love the city; I love the fans. I love Coach Mike Tomlin. I love the coaches, and my teammate, players everyone from the media side to the training room. It’s been unbelievable. My career here has been amazing. It would be nice to stay here and play with these guys and the same coaches. It would be nice to stay here for another four years.”
Schuster Makes Surprising Playoff Return
Smith-Schuster was lost for the season in Week 5. But returned for the playoff loss to the Chiefs, and he looked like his same explosive self. An elated Schuster tweeted this statement.
Some words from me. Thank you everyone for the love and support! pic.twitter.com/kCmhyKSXVy
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) October 13, 2021
“God answered my prayers and I’ve recovered from my season-ending shoulder injury earlier than expected. I can’t believe I get another chance to take the field with this team and play in a playoff game to keep our season alive. Steelers Nation, #HereWeGo!”
Thank you for all the love and support this season, Steelers Nation!🤞🏾❤️ pic.twitter.com/Q23fhfHk35
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) January 17, 2022
Teammate Diontae Johnson had this to say about Schuster’s recovery prior to his return.
“I thought he looked smooth. He still has great hands, a natural catcher. Big hands, strong. Just seeing him run around, he is still JuJu at the end of the day and it’s exciting. I’m happy he is back. If he gets a chance to play, I’m going to be excited for him…It was good to see him out there. He brings that positive energy that we need…There’s never a dull moment when he’s around.”
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 15, 2020
Schuster’s Numbers Have Dipped Without Antonio Brown
In his first two seasons, Schuster saw a ton of man coverage as Antonio Brown was the focus of secondaries when they faced the Steelers. Schuster went crazy totaling 2,343 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. He even caught a league-long 97-yarder in each season as well.
Since AB’s departure, Schuster has struggled with injuries and some inconsistent play, having totaled just 1,531 receiving yards. He tallied his career-high of nine touchdowns in 2020.
JuJu with the crazy hit on Burfict 😳pic.twitter.com/2DntJwHQgA
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) December 5, 2017
The Steelers could definitely use JuJu as he’s their most complete receiver, able to line up in the slot or outside. He’s a great blocker and physical after the catch. With the quarterback position ultimately going to whatever young quarterback they draft this season, having a real deal dog at the receiver position is mandatory.
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