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Many expected JuJu Smith-Schuster to sign with another team in free agency, as the Steelers were up against the salary cap and wouldn't have been able to compete with what other teams were offering. However, things didn't go as planned in free agency and Smith-Schuster didn't get lucrative offers and he decided to come back to Pittsburgh on a one-year, $8 million prove-it deal. The Chiefs and Ravens both offered more money on one-year deals, but Smith-Schuster knew that playing with the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for another year was his best option.
"Being somewhere in an atmosphere and environment, knowing where the team knows you, they know your history, they know how you are, how to use you and stuff like that," Smith-Schuster said when asked about why he re-signed with the Steelers on the "Michael Irvin Podcast" via Nick Shook of NFL.com. "Coming back and knowing that I would have Ben back for one more year and playing my last year, it was just like, 'Yo, I'm gonna take my chance, I'm gonna play with Ben.'"
Smith-Schuster said the Ravens went all-in to try to recruit him to play in Baltimore, but he knew all along that staying in the black and gold was the right decision for him.
"Baltimore, K.C., they're all great teams, no doubt. These teams are playoff contenders every year for the next five to 10 years, and I respect that about them. Tee Martin was a coach at USC who coached me, he ended up going to the Ravens and he reached out and that's how that process started," Smith-Schuster said. "Lamar reached out, the head coach called, Marlon Humphrey's hitting me up. It starts getting serious when the players start texting you and hit you up like, 'Yo, what's up, bro? What we doing? Come win.' All respect to them, and it was cool. But I think with me it's more so staying home, staying loyal. In my situation, we have a new OC, Ben's coming back, my relationship with my receiver coach, Ike Hilliard, is amazing. You can't beat that.
"Being home with the Steelers is the best. It's ideal just for me, you know. I think what really people didn't get to see a lot is later in my career, because I dealt with injuries, I played mainly slot. And coming back and playing outside more this year and showing people that can be a No. 1 and having Ben back healthy and me being healthy and just having the team that we have."