Of the various looming free agents in Pittsburgh, one name creates the most intrigue: JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The team’s MVP in 2018 (a vote that prompted receiver Antonio Brown to force his way out of town), Smith-Schuster’s rookie deal is expiring. Absent a new contract or the franchise tag, Smith-Schuster will hit the open market on March 17.
John Clayton of 710 ESPN in Seattle said recently on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that the Raiders are “very interested” in signing Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster could fill the Nelson Agholor role in the Las Vegas offense, as the complement to speedster Henry Ruggs. Agholor becomes a free agent, too, and his decision to rip into teammates could cause the Raiders to look elsewhere.
Smith-Schuster is a tough, hard-nosed, effective receiver. He’s not a No. 1, however. The Steelers tried that in 2019. He lacks the ability to attract double coverage. Across from someone who does, Smith-Schuster can be incredibly effective.
It will be interesting to see whether the Steelers can work something out with Smith-Schuster before he hits the market, or whether they even want to. They’ve got plenty of talented receivers who are still operating under rookie contracts.
Also, between his dancing on opposing teams’ logos and his “Browns is the Browns” comment before the playoff loss to Cleveland, the Steelers may want to move forward with guys who won’t be giving extra motivation to the teams the Steelers play.