Updated: Jun 14, 2021
(Photo by Micheal Reaves/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster is heading into another contract year after not cashing in on long-term this past free agency. He was offered more money by both the Chiefs and Ravens, albeit both on one-year deals, but he decided to re-sign with the Steelers since he's familiar with the organization and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Smith-Schuster is betting on himself and hoping to get paid handsomely in 2022 either by the Steelers or another team, and he now has a new agent to help him achieve that goal.
WassermanNFL on Twitter today announced that they're now representing Smith-Schuster. The USC product was formerly represented by Roc Nation.
According to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, NFL agent Chafie Fields, co-head of Wasserman's U.S. football division, is representing Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster has talked a lot this offseason about playing more on the outside than in the slot, which is where he played 84.7 percent of the time in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. And many believe that the root of why he wants to play more on the outside is tied to getting a long-term deal.
"My value is my value. I thought everything that happened this year was different, with the cap being low, Smith-Schuster said last week via Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports. "So next year, with the cap being so much bigger and knowing I'll be on the market again, other teams are going to want to offer something to my value. But this year, I want to make sure I go out and make my value better."
Smith-Schuster says he'll be on the market again, but he made it clear that the Steelers will be an option, as well.
"I think to come back for another four more years and have nine years as a Steeler would be tremendous and remarkable," Smith-Schuster said. "It would be unheard of from a receiver standpoint. No doubt. Don't get it wrong. Pittsburgh is definitely still an option on the table, and I know that they'll fight hard and they're one of the teams that have the most cap."
Smith-Schuster averaged just 8.6 yards per catch last year, which ranked 126th in the league. So, he'll definitely have to put up better numbers in 2021 if he wants to get Kenny Golladay type of money, who was one receiver that did get a long-term contract in a depressed free agency market. Smith-Schuster wants to play more on the outside under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada like in 2018, which he claims was probably his best year in his career.
"Being able to play outside, you are adding more to your craft," Smith-Schuster said via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. "When you look at Year 2, probably the best year I have had as a Pittsburgh Steeler, I played more outside than inside. Having another threat player on the other side with Ben (Roethlisberger). I think we have threat players all the way around.
"I haven't even had a conversation with (offensive coordinator) Matt (Canada) about me playing outside, but through OTAs there's been plays where he has put me outside, put me in the best situation getting the ball outside. It's not just me, that's all of us. Everyone is getting a little bit of a touch, moving around, knowing this offense. I think this offense is going to help us out a lot, being able to open up holes for Najee (Harris), being able to open plays and balls down the field. I really believe in this offense."