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Juju Smith-Schuster Talks About His Decision To Stay With Steelers, Turn Down AFC Champion Chiefs

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All offseason, it appeared that the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to lose wide out Juju Smith-Schuster to another team.

Instead, Smith-Schuster settled on a one-year deal to stay with the Steelers. The contract includes a $7 million signing bonus, a $1 million base salary and four voidable years, lowering his 2021 cap number to $1.6M.

It’s a deal that worked out great for the Steelers, a team that sorely needed to re-sign players, especially Ben Roethlisberger, without depleting all of their salary cap space.

Though some headlines suggest that the team wasn’t exactly thrilled with Smith-Schuster, they are glad to get him back. Hopefully, he will be the leading receiver, along with Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Ray-Ray McCloud, and tight end Eric Ebron.

Last season, Smith-Schuster, who is still just 24 years old, pulled in 97 catches for 831 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

He was the go-to wide out for Big Ben as the season progressed, and Ben can now go to Smith-Schuster early and often once again.

Part of the reason that Smith-Schuster decided return to the Steel City has to do with the Steelers’ long term salary cap.

“The cap is the cap, that’s something you can’t hide and it is what it is. Betting on one year, I had other deals on the table, but I want to bet on myself,” Smith-Schuster said.

“I think next year the cap is going to be higher and you know, fun fact, the Steelers are one of the teams that are going to have a bigger cap next year. I’m just looking into the future.

“I’m fine with the one-year deal and playing with the guys I’m going to play with. Come back to coaches that I have real good relationships with. I know them, they know me, and it’s going to make my job much easier this year.”

The young receiver has plenty of growing left to do. Now that he’s got at least a little security on a one-year deal, let’s see whether he can do so in 2021 and beyond.

Written by Matt Loede

Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."

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