Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster feels disrespected by 1-year contract

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has a chip on his shoulder about his new contract, but he’s not letting it bring him down.

In an exclusive interview with FanSided, JuJu Smith-Schuster revealed the inside details about his decision to stay with the Steelers.

The former free agent chose to sign with Pittsburgh last March when he accepted a one-year deal worth $8 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. Smith-Schuster also fielded offers from other teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles, but ultimately decided to take the modest one-year offer to return to Pittsburgh.

He has since posted his decision on Twitter, complete with a clip from The Wolf of Wall Street and a jubilant caption:

While Steelers fans will rejoice over the done deal, Smith-Schuster told FanSided he felt slightly…slighted from the offer Pittsburgh made him.

Smith-Schuster said, “I felt like I could have gotten a multi-deal. That didn’t work out to my favor, but I still feel like I could have gotten even a two-year deal or three-year deal. I understand the cap is on everything so hopefully next year, it’s a lot better.”

Up until he made his decision, whispers from the NFL rumor mill suggested Smith-Schuster was unlikely to accept a new contract from the cap-strapped Steelers. After restructuring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract, Pittsburgh had already lowered its cap hit by $15 million. Luckily for Steelers fans, it seems Roethlisberger might have played a role in keeping Smith-Schuster around, given their mutual respect for each other.

“People always say,  [Ben’s] done, he’s done, but you’re not the one who’s out there with him,” Smith-Schuster said. “He’s putting in the work, he’s putting in the time, so there’s no change about that.”

Steelers’ wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster feels undervalued at home

Smith-Schuster’s bond with the “Steel City” runs deep. Pittsburgh picked Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 draft, and they gave him a four-year $4 million contract that year, including a one million dollar signing bonus. Smith-Schuster has since had a decorated career with the Steelers, earning a Pro Bowl invitation in 2018 and finishing 2020 with 97 catches, 831 yards, and nine touchdowns.

And unlike that Jerry Maguire scene, it’s not always all about the money. Smith-Schuster’s decision to remain with the franchise ultimately came down to where he felt most at home and the teammates he felt most familiar with.

He said, “For the most part, what sold me was staying home and knowing what I do. I looked at the pros and cons of me going to Kansas City and me going to Baltimore and if I can bet one year on myself, [I want to] do it somewhere where I’ve been already for the past four years, where a team knows me.”

No doubt he’s still got that little chip on the shoulder about his contract, but Smith-Schuster has come to terms with it, saying “You get haters, you get lovers, and at the end of the day, it’s just more fuel to your fire.”

If for some reason the deal goes awry, Smith-Schuster still has 2.9 million followers on TikTok to rant to and the city of Pittsburgh to fall back on. The old adage runs true: there really is no place like home, and for a star like Smith-Schuster, he’s just trying to make himself more comfortable.

JuJu has signed a new contract of sorts—with Charmin. He is helping the toilet paper brand reveal groundbreaking AI technology to help people enjoy the go like never before. (Don’t worry, we’ve come a long way since the Charmin “RollBot”)

Next. 3 best moves that Steelers made in the NFL Draft. dark