Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had to wait until the 62nd pick of the 2017 NFL draft to hear his name called, but being a free agent this offseason was apparently more stressful.
"I would probably say free agency was more nerve wracking than draft day," he said, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "Everything this year did not play out to how I wanted it to be when I look back five, four years. It's a lot different. It's betting on myself, going with the team I've been with before, and going out trying to get paid again."
The USC product ultimately re-signed with the Steelers this offseason.
Florio noted Smith-Schuster considered joining the Kansas City Chiefs or Baltimore Ravens before going back to Pittsburgh on a one-year, $8 million deal.
While he may have been hurt by the league's lower salary cap as it deals with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wide receiver said he is happy to go back to the only NFL team he has ever known.
"Going back to where I know my quarterback, I know my receivers coach, I know my offense," he said. "They know me, they know my body. Just betting on myself is something that I've looked at, and I don't regret it at all."
The 2018 Pro Bowler had 97 catches for 831 yards and nine touchdowns last season, which was an improvement from the 552 receiving yards and three touchdown catches he had in 2019 but not close to the 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdown catches he had in his Pro Bowl campaign.
Given his comments, Smith-Schuster is going to be stressed again next offseason.
However, he is just 24 years old and will look to return to his 2018 form with continuity in place for the upcoming campaign.