JuJu Smith-Schuster says 'heavy run offense' made Ravens his third choice in free agency

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Julius Long
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Smith-Schuster: 'heavy run offense' made Ravens his third choice in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Well before NFL free agency hit, fans and front offices were eying JuJu Smith-Schuster. He brings two things that pretty much every team looks for in a free agent wide receiver: immense talent and youth. 

It's been widely reported that he had a number of enticing options to choose from, namely the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs. But the 24-year-old former Pro-Bowler ultimately opted for a one-year deal that will see him spend at least another season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the Michael Irvin Podcast, Smith-Schuster shared a bit about his decision making process, including which teams came in second and third on his list. 

"Baltimore, [Kansas City] they're all great teams, no doubt. These teams are playoff contenders every year for the next five to ten years. I respect that about them," he said.

Both teams had plenty to offer Smith-Schuster, but unlike Andy Reid and the Chiefs, the Ravens didn't have a Lombardi Trophy to wave in front of him. And according to Smith-Schuster's evaluation, it probably would not have mattered if they did.

"T. Martin was the coach at USC who coached me. He ended up going to the Ravens. He reached out and that's how that process started," he said. "Lamar reached out. The head coach called. Marlon Humphrey was hitting me up. It starts getting serious when the players start texting you and hitting you up like 'Yo what's up bro? What we doing? Come win,'" he laughed. 

The Ravens heavy pursuit comes as no surprise. They were in need of a No. 1 option at wide receiver as they looked to balance out a rush-heavy offense. But, ironically, that rush-heavy offense is what put the Ravens behind the Chiefs in his eyes.

"Lamar [Jackson]'s a really, a heavy run offense with the backs that he has, his No. 1 target was [Mark] Andrews, who's a tight end...it would have been KC after the Steelers."

At the end of the day, it wasn't just the state of the Ravens' offense that turned Smith-Schuster off. His familiarity with Pittsburgh seemed to make all the difference. After starting last season 11-0 and falling flat against the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs, he's more than confident continuing his pursuit of a Super Bowl title with the only quarterback, only coach, and only franchise he's known since entering the league in 2017.

"Being in that similar atmosphere and environment knowing that the team knows you, they know your history, they know how you are and how to use you and stuff like that," he said were the main reasons he's keeping his talents in Pittsburgh.