The Steelers are going to have competition when it comes to retaining wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, as four teams are interested in signing him as a free agent according to a report by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
In addition to the Steelers, Fowler reports that the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars could become involved with Smith-Schuster once the league’s free agent contact period starts on Monday.
The Chiefs were rumored to be one of the two teams that Smith-Schuster passed on prior to the 2021 season before deciding to return to the Steelers on a one year, $8 million dollar deal. The other team, the Ravens, weren’t listed by Fowler in the report.
Smith-Schuster is coming off an injury-filled season where he only appeared in five regular season games and the team’s loss to the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. In the regular season, he only had 15 catches for 129 yards and no touchdowns. General manager Kevin Colbert praised Smith-Schuster’s selflessness in working to return from the injury for Pittsburgh’s playoff game.
“JuJu did a great comeback from the shoulder injury that he suffered and much to our surprise, he was available to us in the season in the playoff game,” Colbert said. We commend him for doing that, for putting his free agency thoughts aside and just trying to help us win a playoff game. We really take that into account and give him credit for having done that.”
The Steelers’ second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster is still only 25 years old, despite hitting free agency for the second time in his career.
The Steelers have three wide receivers scheduled to hit free agency: Smith-Schuster, fellow slot man and kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud and outside receiver James Washington, with only Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson under contract for 2022 among the team’s regulars from last season.