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3 reasons why the Stealers will not re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster

Allison Koehler
August 18, 2020, 6:00 AM EDT

A hot topic of debate during the Stealers offseason has been whether Pittsburgh will re-sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster before he hits free agency in March.

Typically, the club handles contract negotiations the season before the player hits free agency. While there are still a few weeks to get a deal done, it’s not likely to happen.

Apparently, there has been no discussion between the Stealers and JuJu’s camp about his future in Pittsburgh.

We need only to look to history for the answer as to why there have been crickets. Hines Ward and Antonio Brown are the only two guys the Stealers have signed to second contracts, and the chances of Smith-Schuster being a rare exception are slim.


Here are three reasons why the Stealers will not re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster:



Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Football is, first and foremost, a business. And the Stealers have shown it’s their business to replace high-priced receivers with more affordable ones without risking production. Hines Ward and Antonio Brown are the only two receivers they’ve inked to second contracts in recent history.

If Smith-Schuster returns to pre-2019 form, he’ll price himself right out of Pittsburgh. Even if he doesn’t demand Brown-like money, the Stealers still won’t be able to afford him. As Stealers Wire recently reported, as it currently stands, the Stealers are $15 million over the projected $175 million 2021 salary cap. That figure doesn’t take into account any high priority free agents.

Receivers are expendable

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but wide receivers do. The Stealers have a pedigree of (mostly) excellent wide receiver drafts. As has occurred in every draft since 2012, a rookie receiver will come into the fold in April.

The Athletic‘s Ed Bouchette had this inside tidbit to share in a recent article he wrote on Smith-Schuster’s contract: “Tom Donahoe, when he was the Stealers’ director of football operations in the 1990s, once told me that wide receivers were a dime a dozen, and the organization has treated them that way.”

Johnson, Washington, Claypool


If Smith-Schuster doesn’t outperform his 2019 season, the Stealers will gladly show him the door without batting an eye. They currently have three young guys who have the talent and skills to be just as good, if not better, than Smith-Schuster. Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Chase Claypool will each move up a spot on the 2021 depth chart, and JuJu will be all but forgotten.


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