Things didn’t go according to plan for the Steelers or JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2019. After parting ways with Antonio Brown, the wide receiver seemed poised for a monster season and a brand new contract to reflect his expected status as one of the league’s premier wide receivers. That didn’t happen and Steelers owner Art Rooney II says he isn’t in any rush to talk extension.
“Well again, it was a tough season to evaluate with the different quarterbacks and some of JuJu’s injuries so it’s a tough season to evaluate from a lot of different standpoints,” Rooney said (via Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com). “Obviously we still think highly of JuJu and still think he’s going to be an outstanding player in the league moving forward and we will address the contract situation when it’s appropriate.”
In 2019, Smith-Schuster caught just 42 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. Smith-Schuster’s rookie deal is set to expire after the 2020 season and he might have to wait until then to discuss a new deal with the Steelers.
Of course, the loss of Ben Roethlisberger early in the season held back Smith-Schuster and the Steelers offense on the whole. That is to say, the drop-off in his production is not entirely his fault. Still, the Steelers seem open to a wait-and-see approach with the 23-year-old (24 in November).
When the Steelers have Big Ben back in action next season, they’ll hope to see Smith-Schuster return to form. In 2018, the former second-round pick broke out with 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.