Grading JuJu Smith-Schuster re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers: A-

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Mark Schofield
·2 min read
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Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is staying put. The free agent wide receiver has reached an agreement on a one-year deal to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers after testing the free agency waters.

The NFL Network’s Taylor Bisciotti was among those breaking the news on social media. According to reports, the receiver is taking a “substantial” pay cut to stay with the Steelers as the organization works through a tricky cap situation. The news of the deal broke around the same time that it was reported that the Steelers had granted cornerback Steven Nelson permission to seek a trade.

Something that might endear Smith-Schuster to Pittsburgh fans even more? The receiver rebuffed a hard push from the rival Baltimore Ravens:

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He is only a few seasons removed from a 2018 campaign that saw him catch 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, although he topped that touchdown mark with nine scores this past season. In 2020 he displayed the ability to serve as more of a vertical threat in the passing game, but his best work remains near the line of scrimmages on slants, quick-hitting designs, and concepts more rooted in the West Coast school of thought.

For those reasons, Smith-Schuster might be an ideal fit for a few different teams, such as San Francisco, Las Vegas or Chicago, if the Bears are forced to watch Allen Robinson leave in free agency. This play against the Dallas Cowboys is a prime example of what he offers:

He beats press coverage, extends the separation after the break on his slant route, and picks up yardage after the catch.

This is a very solid move for the Steelers, who retain one of their offensive weapons as they navigate a tricky off-season financially. For Smith-Schuster, the reality of this spring is that the wide receiver class has not been as friendly for the players as it is the teams, perhaps due to the incoming class of rookies. He’ll have another season in Pittsburgh to produce and hope that the next off-season provides a stronger market for players at the position. It also gives quarterback Ben Roethisberger a familiar face as the Steelers try and gear up for perhaps the veteran QB’s final ride.