Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster has agreed to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he announced on Twitter on Friday.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Baltimore Ravens made a hard push to sign the receiver and that the Philadelphia Eagles also offered a multiyear deal with more money, but Smith-Schuster wound up taking significantly less money to stay with the Steelers on a one-year deal.

“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!” he posted on Twitter.

The Steelers on Friday also have granted permission to starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade, a source told Schefter.

Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season ended on something of a sour note as he came under fire for his comments before the season-ending playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

“I think they’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year,” Smith-Schuster said before the game. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of good players on their team. But at the end of the day, the Browns is the Browns.”

The receiver was also scrutinized during the season for his viral dances on the midfield logos of opponents before games and posting them on TikTok — a practice which he stopped after coach Mike Tomlin talked to him when it was drawing more and more attention from opponents and media.

Smith-Schuster, 24, became a fan favorite soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. Known for riding his bicycle to the team’s South Side facility, Smith-Schuster gained even more notoriety when it was stolen and then returned within 24 hours.

As a rookie, Smith-Schuster also quickly gained attention on the field as the No. 2 receiver to Antonio Brown, catching 58 passes for 917 receiving yards and 7 touchdown catches — including a 97-yard score.

A year later, he topped 1,000 yards with 1,426 receiving yards and 7 more touchdowns, plus a 13-yard rushing TD.

Once Brown departed, though, Smith-Schuster didn’t ascend to the top dog spot as smoothly as he hoped. His 2019 season was riddled with nagging injuries, and he missed four games. Playing without Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster finished with a career-low 552 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

The following season, Smith-Schuster bounced back in the slot, recording 831 receiving yards and a career-best 9 touchdowns. He was Roethlisberger’s go-to target on third downs and received praise from his quarterback and coach for grittiness and ability to pick up yards through contact.

In four NFL seasons, he has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards with 26 receiving touchdowns in 58 games.

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