JuJu Smith-Schuster on Free Agency: It'd Be Nice to Play Another 4 Years for Steelers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 17, 2022

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) walls the sideline as the team warms up before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, but he would like to stay with the only NFL team he has ever known.

He told reporters it would "be nice to stay here for another four years," following Sunday's 42-21 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is a testament to the USC product's toughness that he was even on the field Sunday, as he was expected to miss the rest of the season after he suffered a shoulder injury during an Oct. 10 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Instead, he rehabbed his way back to a point he was able to be activated from injured reserve.

"God answered my prayers & I've recovered from my season-ending shoulder injury earlier than expected," he tweeted before the game. "I can't believe I get another chance to take the field with this team and play in a playoff game to keep our season alive."

He ultimately wasn't much of a factor with five catches for 26 yards, and Pittsburgh's entire offense struggled until the game was all but over. In fact, the offense had just two first downs to go with seven punts at halftime and was unable to find the end zone until after it fell behind 35-7 in the third quarter.

Smith-Schuster's free agency will be an intriguing one to follow this offseason.

On the one hand, he is just 25 years old and isn't that far removed from a dominant 2018 campaign that saw him finish with 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. On the other hand, he has never been able to replicate that production since and appeared in just five games in 2021.

He is also probably behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the wide receiver depth chart, and they are both under contract for the 2022 campaign. Throw in tight end Pat Freiermuth and running back Najee Harris, who are both rookies, and there is no shortage of offensive weapons in Pittsburgh.

Yet Smith-Schuster wants to sign a long-term deal with the team that took a chance on him in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.