The 2021 NFL season is coming to a close soon. That means that contracts all across the NFL are coming to a close, and extensions and re-signings are on their way. One of the most polarizing debates among Pittsburgh Steelers fans is whether or not they should re-sign Juju Smith Schuster. The receiver has been getting a lot of flak for his Tik-Tok antics. Some even label him as a diva. Despite all of this the Pittsburgh Steelers should absolutely resign Juju Smith Schuster.
Nobody is doubting Smith Schuster’s playmaking ability. What most people doubt is his ability to be a number one receiver. That is warranted. However, even if he is not a true number one, he is a high-level number two. Over his four-year career, he has accumulated 3565 yards and 24 TDs on 292 receptions. On top of that, in his short time in Pittsburgh, he has the two longest plays in Steeler’s history.
Many will point to his poor performance this year as evidence that he cannot play. However, any receiver that is played to their weaknesses instead of their strengths will struggle. Compared to the route tree that he ran in his first 3 years in the league, this year Smith Schuster has been limited. That fault lies with the offensive coordinator, not Juju.
Another argument for letting Smith Schuster go is the uncertainty in the salary cap. However, Juju has seen time after time his teammates get screwed over in free agency. See Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. He knows that on this team he may not get paid well, but he will play well. Most likely, Juju would be willing to cut a “hometown” discount, for the sole reason that he is very popular in Pittsburgh, but not anywhere else. At the end of the day, that popularity will get him endorsements and video game deals, not going to lesser teams. Smith Schuster will absolutely take a bad contract just to stay in Pittsburgh.
Right now, besides Big Ben, Juju is the leader on the offensive side of the ball. Sooner or later, Ben will retire and leave. All season, and frankly his entire career, Smith Schuster has been encouraging and teaching the younger and newer players on the team. He is a leader. To lose him the same time you lose Ben Roethlisberger, would be a big hit to the locker room. Smith Schuster may not be the best leader, but he is one nevertheless, so to lose him during a transition period, will not bode well for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They need a locker room presence and leader, Smith Schuster is that guy, and things may get worse without him.