Two days into 2021 NFL free agency and several days after the start of legal tampering, one of the biggest projected offseason targets remains without a home: JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ 24-year-old Pro Bowl wide receiver. While some teams have reportedly targeted or spoken with the young pass catcher, the top of the WR market as a whole has been slow to develop as clubs prepare to welcome a similarly deep receiving group in the 2021 draft.
What does Smith-Schuster’s market look like at this point? Here’s our best guess at the nine most logical landing spots for the Steelers’ former top receiver:
Why would they pay for JuJu when they still need to extend Allen Robinson? Well, this is the same organization that apparently signed Andy Dalton and committed to him as the starter in a make-or-break year for the coach and general manager. So … yeah. After freeing up space by cutting Kyle Fuller, they could easily try to upgrade at slot receiver, where they’re shopping Anthony Miller.
Wouldn’t this be spicy? Cincy isn’t usually itching to spend big, but if Smith-Schuster’s market is actually depressed, why wouldn’t they consider it? With A.J. Green gone, they could use another proven body alongside Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and Auden Tate, even if Boyd works the slot well already. JuJu, on the other hand, would get a crack at facing the Steelers twice a year.
They could quietly be in the driver’s seat here. JuJu is from California and would assuredly welcome the return to sunnier game days. More importantly, L.A. has money, only added Jared Cook as a short-term tight end fix and has every reason to keep building around Justin Herbert. Keenan Allen plays plenty in the slot, but both he and Smith-Schuster are capable of rotating outside.
They don’t appear eager to burn through their big pile of money, in part because they have several lucrative extensions on the docket, but there’s still room for at least one notable offensive addition, especially with T.Y. Hilton still unsigned. They’ve openly campaigned for a play-making tight end, and JuJu can basically be that as a big, rugged over-the-middle target for new quarterback Carson Wentz.
They’ve already spent at several offensive spots, adding Jacoby Brissett and Malcolm Brown as high-end backups. There’s also the addition of Will Fuller, a very capable starter, out wide. But Fuller on a one-year flyer should not prevent them from ponying up more dough for the more reliable Smith-Schuster, whose style would pair well with both Fuller and DeVante Parker.
There’s no way Green Bay could fit Smith-Schuster into a tight cap situation unless his market is really that disappointing and/or the Packers have more cost-cutting moves ahead. But you could easily see JuJu taking a bit less to suit up with Aaron Rodgers for one of the NFL’s most popular franchises. Rodgers would assuredly love a solid starter of Smith-Schuster’s caliber.
They’re not loaded with money, but they’ve got enough room to get creative. And giving Lamar Jackson such a sturdy mid-range target would bode well for the entire offense, not to mention potentially weaken a key rival. The question, really, is whether the Ravens can or even want to spend more than a few million at WR when they’ve already invested a decent amount in Jackson’s O-line.
The longer JuJu sits on the market, the more likely a return to Pittsburgh becomes. Yes, the guy’s already openly flaunted his likely departure and probably has a larger number of suitors than reports suggest, but he’s said before he’d like to stay in Steel City. If the Steelers can have him back on an under-market deal, they’d jump at the chance for Ben Roethlisberger’s title-or-bust return.
They’ve already poached one big-name Steeler for big bucks in Bud Dupree, so why not another? In all seriousness, the Titans need at least one major reinforcement on offense now that both Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith have signed elsewhere. Pairing JuJu with A.J. Brown would help offset the losses immediately, and they’ve still got cap space to work with.
Published: 2021-03-19 00:04:48
Tags: #JuJu #SmithSchuster #landing #spots #Chargers #Dolphins #among #logical #destinations #Steelers #receiver