August 4, 2021

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JuJu Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with…

3 min read
JuJu Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with...


JuJu Smith-Schuster on Friday announced he has agreed to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming just the third wide receiver in the modern era to earn a second contract with the organization, joining Hines Ward and Antonio Brown.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Baltimore Ravens made a hard push to sign Smith-Schuster and that the Philadelphia Eagles also offered a multiyear deal with more money but that Smith-Schuster wound up taking significantly less money to stay with the Steelers on a one-year deal.

A source told ESPN’s Field Yates that Smith-Schuster’s $8 million contract with the Steelers has a $7 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary and four void years. The contract’s structure will result in a $2.4 million cap hit in 2021 and a $5.6 million cap hit in 2022, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!” he posted on Twitter.

Signing Smith-Schuster doesn’t come without consequences, however, and the cap-strapped Steelers also have granted permission to starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade, a source told Schefter.

The Steelers had less than $4 million in cap space as of Friday morning, and trading or cutting Nelson would free up a little more than $8 million.

Nelson’s departure would make him the fifth starting defensive player to depart from the team in free agency, including veteran linebacker Vince Williams, who was released earlier this week.

Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season ended on something of a sour note as he came under fire for his comments before the season-ending playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

“I think they’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year,” Smith-Schuster said before the game. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of good players on their team. But at the end of the day, the Browns is the Browns.”

The receiver was also scrutinized during the season for his dances on the midfield logos of opponents before games that he posted on TikTok — a practice he stopped after coach Mike Tomlin talked to him when it was drawing more and more attention from opponents and media.

Smith-Schuster, 24, became a fan favorite soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. Known for riding his bicycle to the team’s South Side facility, Smith-Schuster gained even more notoriety when it was stolen and then returned within 24 hours.

As a rookie, Smith-Schuster also quickly gained attention on the field as the No. 2 receiver to Antonio Brown, catching 58 passes for 917 receiving yards and seven touchdowns — including a 97-yard score.

A year later, he topped 1,000 yards with 1,426 receiving yards and seven more touchdowns, plus a 13-yard rushing TD.

Once Brown departed, though, Smith-Schuster didn’t ascend to the top receiver spot as smoothly as he hoped to. His 2019 season was riddled with nagging injuries, and he missed four games. Playing without Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster finished with a career-low 552 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The next season, Smith-Schuster bounced back in the slot, recording 831 receiving yards and a career-best nine touchdowns. He was Roethlisberger’s go-to target on third downs and received praise from his quarterback and the coach for grittiness and his ability to pick up yards through contact.

In four NFL seasons, he has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards and 26 touchdowns in 58 games.

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.


https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/31093963/juju-smith-schuster-opts-re-sign-pittsburgh-steelers