Speaking to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on the podcast RapSheet and Friends (h/t ProFootballTalk's Josh Alper), Smith-Schuster said he wants the Steelers to find a way to work things out with Brown and Bell for 2019:
"In my dream world ... I would have Le'Veon Bell as the running back with James Conner. I'd have AB stay on the other side. We'd win the Super Bowl with the guys that we have, the guys that we keep. Obviously it's tough, situations like where you can't control—Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin with that situation. For me, it's more so like, let's keep the guys on the team and win the Super Bowl. Let's stop all the bulls--t."
The Steelers' issues with Bell and Brown served as bookends to their disappointing 9-6-1 season that resulted in their missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Bell didn't play in 2018 after being designated with the franchise tag for the second consecutive season. Offensive lineman Ramon Foster expressed his frustration with his teammate in September.
"What do you do? Here's a guy who doesn't give a damn, I guess, so we'll treat it as such," Foster told reporters. "I just hate it came to this."
Brown was inactive for Pittsburgh's must-win Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported there was an altercation between Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, leading the All-Pro receiver to go "AWOL essentially for the third time this season dating back to training camp."
Steelers president Art Rooney II told reporters Jan. 16 that he's open to Brown's return, but there are "not that many signs out there that that's going to happen."
Brown is signed for three more years, and his cap number rises from about $8 million this season to $22.2 million in 2019. He remains one of the NFL's most productive receivers with 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns on 104 receptions in 2018.