The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off one of the surprises of free agency when they announced the re-signing of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster two weeks ago.
Still, not everyone is convinced the decision was the right move, including a former Steelers player turned analyst.
Discussing Smith-Schuster’s re-signing on ESPN’s NFL Live, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark ripped the move, calling the it “foolish” on the receiver’s part.
“He’s not going to be the guy in Pittsburgh. He’s not going to get the amount of targets he wants to get,” he said. “You went to Pittsburgh because the grass wasn’t greener.”
Smith-Schuster had been expressing his desire to stay in Pittsburgh for months, but also conceded he wanted to be paid what he believed he was worth.
After ultimately returning to the Steelers, he was active on social media expressing his love for the city and how thankful he is to be a member of the franchise.
This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!! 💛🖤💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/SPFvCLUmFl— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) March 19, 2021
Clark blasted the display as inauthentic, while accusing Smith-Schuster of trying to suck up after not getting the big pay day elsewhere he had pursued.
“No, you aren’t Pittsburgh. You aren’t Pittsburgh-like. You don’t really act like a Steeler,” Clark said. “Other places would have been better, but they didn’t want to give you the money. They didn’t want to give you the long-term deal.
“So stop with the performing arts, right? Stop with The Wolf of Wall Street. And it was going to take a wrecking ball to get me out of Pittsburgh,” he said. “No. It was just going to take a better deal. And you ain’t get it.”
Clark also said Smith-Schuster would have been better off signing with the division rival Baltimore Ravens or Kansas City Chiefs, who both reportedly extended him offers.
“It’s not going to be like playing in Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes, where you know the pass game is huge. You know you will get your opportunities,” Clark added. “Or being with Lamar Jackson where you will be a No. 1 that would be targeted in a spot that Lamar Jackson targets often. Where he’s prolific in passing.”
Smith-Schuster led the Steelers with 97 receptions in 2020 and also tallied 831 yards and nine touchdowns.
Selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of USC, Smith-Schuster has 293 receptions, 3,565 yards and 24 touchdowns as a Steeler.
He was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl in 2018.