(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, JuJu Smith-Schuster's one-year, $10.75 million deal with the Chiefs isn't as lucrative as it appears, as the contract has a base value of only $3.25 million. Of that amount, only $2.49 million is fully guaranteed at signing.
Florio says Smith-Schuster's deal contains a signing bonus of $1.455 million and a fully-guaranteed base salary of $1.035 million. The rest of the base package comes from a workout bonus ($250,000) and per-game roster bonuses ($30,000 per game, or up to $510,000).
The deal also includes $7.5 million in incentives, at least $2 million of which would be earned if the Chiefs at least get to the AFC Championship. So, Smith-Schuster is really betting on himself with this deal. Who knows if it was his best offer, but playing with an elite quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and a Super Bowl-caliber team surely played into his decision. The market probably wasn't all that robust either, as Smith-Schuster suffered a shoulder injury in Week 5 last year and didn't return until the wild-card game loss to the Chiefs.
According to Smith-Schuster's mom, Sammy Schuster, the Steelers never offered her son a contract to return.
"JuJu and I fought to stay in Pittsburgh because it was never about money, it was about loyalty," Sammy Schuster wrote on Instagram Saturday. "So, (the Steelers) didn't want JuJu anymore. If you're not wanted then why stay?"
If what Smith-Schuster's mom said is true, the Steelers must have really not been interested in bringing JuJu back, especially since his contract with the Chiefs has just a base value of $3.25 million and only $2.49 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Smith-Schuster, 25, was a second-round pick by the Steelers in 2017 out of USC. Following an impressive rookie campaign, Smith-Schuster was named team MVP in 2018 after recording a career-high 117 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. Both those years were with Antonio Brown, however, and he's fallen off statistically since. The 2019 season was pretty much a wash, as Ben Roethlisberger played just six quarters before suffering a season-ending elbow injury that required surgery. Smith-Schuster had an OK 2020 season, but it was nothing spectacular. He averaged just 8.6 yards per reception.
Judging by Smith-Schuster's offseason comments, it's not surprising that he didn't return to the Steelers. I think he wanted a fresh start, and playing with Mahomes is hard to pass on twice, as the Chiefs wanted Smith-Schuster last year during the free agency cycle.
"Playing for Andy. ... When you're in free agency, it comes down to the quarterback," Smith-Schuster said on why he signed with the Chiefs during his introductory press conference on Sunday.