While NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday the New York Jets have had conversations with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, his colleague Mike Garafolo is not ruling out a return to Pittsburgh.
According to Garafolo, the Steelers have not given up on re-signing Smith-Schuster and “have remain engaged in the situation the last few days.”
While @RapSheet says the #Jets have conversations with JuJu Smith-Schuster, the #Steelers haven't closed the door on a return and have remain engaged in the situation the last few days. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 18, 2021
Plenty of money has reportedly been spent already since the start of free agency, but wide receivers have not been one of the positions taking advantage.
After the salary cap was suppressed by pandemic-related losses, there appears to be a disconnect between what top wide receivers want and their actual market value. Smith-Schuster appears to be the poster boy of that predicament.
Smith-Schuster has expressed a desire to continue his career in Pittsburgh over recent months, but also acknowledged his desire to be payed what he believes he has earned.
Due to their tight financial situation, a reunion between the Steelers and Smith-Schuster has been thought to be unlikely for quite some time.
If Smith-Schuster is unable to find a payday elsewhere, a return to Pittsburgh on a one-year, “prove it” deal may end up being his most viable option. He would then likely attempt to cash in again when the salary cap explodes as expected in 2022.
Smith-Schuster led Pittsburgh with 97 receptions in 2020, while also recording 831 yards and nine touchdowns.
Selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Southern California, Smith-Schuster has 293 receptions, 3,565 yards and 24 touchdowns over his Steeler career.
He was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl in 2018.