We are already into the thick of the NFL offseason and that means free agency. Teams can’t contact free agents until March 15th, but news of the top players will circulate as we close in on that starting point. Dak Prescott, Allen Robinson, and Kenny Golladay are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 17th. One or more stands a good chance of signing a contract with their current team or being franchise tagged before then, but there is a chance one or more is taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 15th.
Below we will take a look at Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
2020 in review
2020 was a weird year for Smith-Schuster, as the Steelers went with a quick, short passing game to offset Ben Roethlisberger’s weak arm and trouble on the offensive line. Smith-Schuster became a possession receiver, averaging just 8.6 yards per reception. His previous low was 12.8 yards. He did catch nine touchdowns, as he brought in 97 passes for 831 yards.
There will be plenty of interest in Smith-Schuster, especially if teams think they can get a deal after a down statistical season. The list of teams that will be in on JuJu will likely have plenty of the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Washington Football Team, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals to name a few.
Do the Steelers want to keep him?
The Steelers would like to keep him, but are over the shrinking salary cap by around $30 million. They are going to need to make some tough decisions and with Chase Claypool playing well his rookie year, a trio of Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington would be enough to work with in 2021.
Smith-Schuster’s fantasy upside is higher than what he showed in 2020, but he will have trouble finding 128 targets and 97 receptions, even of the ultra-short variety, in free agency. Unless he gets very lucky to be the true No. 1 on a team, his fantasy value will be low compared to playing for the pass-happy Steelers.
The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly are “very interested” in signing Smith-Schuster, per ESPN’s John Clayton.