JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Almost Signed with Chiefs Before Steelers FA Contract

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 8, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) runs after catch during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

JuJu Smith-Schuster decided to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed a one-year deal in the offseason, but he also heavily considered a move to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Andy Reid was just calling me and he was sending me Lombardi Trophy pictures like constantly," the receiver said on the Michael Irvin Podcast (via Nick Shook of NFL.com). "We had a good talk, so it would've been K.C. after the Steelers. Like texted it to me while I was trying to make a decision and I have so much respect for him and his team."

Smith-Schuster also noted interest from the Baltimore Ravens, but he was unsure about his potential role in the run-first offense.

The 24-year-old was widely expected to go somewhere besides Pittsburgh after an up-and-down past couple of seasons. After he earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, injuries held him back in 2019, and consistency was an issue in 2020.

Smith-Schuster finished with 97 catches but only 831 receiving yards, often falling behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in the pecking order.

While he still wouldn't be a No. 1 option in Kansas City behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, there are more yards to go around with the top-ranked passing attack in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes has also shown the ability to connect on more downfield passes than Ben Roethlisberger at this stage of their respective careers.

The Chiefs are also a top contender to win the Super Bowl after reaching the title game in each of the last two years, winning it all after the 2019 season.

It still wasn't enough to convince Smith-Schuster to leave his current squad.

"I think with me it's more so staying home, staying loyal," he said of returning to the Steelers. "In my situation, we have a new OC, Ben's coming back, my relationship with my receiver coach, Ike Hilliard, is amazing. You can't beat that. Being home with the Steelers is the best."

Smith-Schuster also said he will play more outside this season after spending a significant amount of time in the slot in 2020.