With the start of free agency just over a month away, ESPN has released their best fits for the Top 50 players available, including Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and outside linebacker Bud Dupree.
Even though he has expressed a desire to remain in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation could prevent them from resigning Smith-Schuster.
As a result, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler sees the New York Jets as a reasonable destination for the 24-year-old, citing Smith-Schuster as a perfect fit in new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s scheme. Smith-Schuster would make a reliable target for quarterback Sam Darnold or whoever the Jets select with the No. 2-overall pick, filling the role occupied by Deebo Samuel in the San Francisco 49ers offense.
Rated as the seventh-most coveted free agent this cycle, ESPN projected Dupree to the Tennessee Titans. While he is still recovering from a torn ACL that ended his 2020 season, Dupree’s recovery appears to be going as planned.
Dupree would provide a significant lift to a lackluster Titans pass rush that mustered just 19 sacks a season ago.
Villanueva’s Steelers tenure also appears all but certain to come to an end this offseason, another casualty of the team’s financial situation.
ESPN sees the 32-year-old fitting in nicely with the Los Angeles Chargers, who have been searching for their left tackle for some time. The move would also reunite Villanueva with former offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, who was hired as the Chargers’ assistant offensive line coach a few weeks ago.
The Steelers could also lose one of their slot cornerbacks in Mike Hilton or Cameron Sutton. In response, the franchise could pluck a former division rival to slide into their roles.
After missing out on him by one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, ESPN believes the Steelers could finally get their hands on Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Will Jackson III in free agency.
In addition, starters Steven Nelson and Joe Haden are aging and set to hit free agency themselves in 2022. Signing the 28-year-old would give the Steelers a proven veteran with significantly less tread on his tires for years to come.
Jackson recorded three interceptions and 41 passes defended over four seasons in Cincinnati.
Dak to Carolina— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 9, 2021
JuJu to Jets
Hunter Henry to Indy
Patrick Peterson to Raiders
We propose 50 free agency fits, including intel from around the league on the top players available. https://t.co/rwA3LDHr1v