JuJu Smith-Schuster Rumors: Raiders Like Steelers WR's Game and 'His Toughness'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates after scoring on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

If the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't able to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster before the beginning of the free-agency period, he may find a new home in Las Vegas. 

"I do think the Steelers will have productive talks with him, try to keep Smith-Schuster. Big Ben would love to have him back. But I know the Raiders like his game, his toughness," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter. "They could add a new dimension there. Smith-Schuster can do a lot of different things on offense for Derek Carr and that attack. And the Jets I believe will look at him as well. Nelson Agholor, though, with the Raiders they really like him and could try to keep him."

Smith-Schuster recorded 97 receptions for 831 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 and could be one of the top skill position players on the market.

The Steelers seem unlikely to use the franchise tag on Smith-Schuster given their cap constraints. A tag would cost Pittsburgh roughly $16.4 million in 2021, an onerous cap hit for a team that will already have to renegotiate Ben Roethlisberger's contract this offseason to sneak under the cap.

If Smith-Schuster becomes a free agent, it seems likelier than not that he'll play elsewhere in 2021. The Raiders' top wide receiver last season, Nelson Agholor, will be a free agent this offseason. It's possible they will allow Agholor to walk and sign a slot player like Smith-Schuster, with second-year wideout Henry Ruggs being more heavily relied upon to stretch the field.

Smith-Schuster signing in Las Vegas may lead to Darren Waller's ceiling being limited. Waller has regularly lined up in the slot the last two seasons and has been Derek Carr's favorite target underneath. It's a situation worth monitoring for fantasy purposes in particular, as Waller's been among the most productive tight ends in football.