JuJu Smith-Schuster has an extremely tough decision to make regarding his future in the NFL, what team will he play for in 2021 and beyond. He is currently a free agent.
JuJu remains one of the best wide receivers still available in free agency. After a solid season where he caught 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns, the former USC star has likely received many calls from teams around the league. He is expected to receive a five-year, $80.7 million contract this offseason, according to spotrac.com.
Although this can be considered too much money to pay JuJu, his talent can’t go unnoticed. In his best season in 2018, he caught 111 passes for 1426 yards and seven touchdowns. That was also with wide receiver Antonio Brown on the team.
Could JuJu be better as a second option than the first?
In his first two seasons as the second option on the Pittsburgh Steelers, JuJu caught a combined `169 passes for 2,343 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, when he took over as the team’s top option in 2019, the former second-round pick didn’t live up to expectations. JuJu caught a combined 139 passes for 1381 yards and 12 touchdowns.
This might play a factor in team’s decision to acquire him, hence why he is still a free agent. However, many teams are still likely calling the former Pro Bowler because he has the potential to be a top 20 wide receiver in the league. Here are three free-agent destinations for JuJu Smith-Schuster.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s hard to imagine JuJu not in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform in 2021. With Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger coming back for another season, Pittsburgh will likely do what it can to keep the weapons around him.
Even though JuJu has only had one 1,000 yard season in his short four-year career, he can be considered one of the best run after catch receivers in the league. Just last season, he ranked 13th in the AFC in yards after catch (391).
With Roethlisberger getting up there in age (39), the Steelers likely need a receiver like JuJu to make it easier for him. If the Steelers want any chance at making a postseason run in 2021, they should likely re-sign the former Pro Bowler to a long-term deal.
2. New York Jets
The New York Jets can get a huge boost to their receiving group if they can grab JuJu. This offseason, they have already signed former first-round pick Corey Davis. It’s evident that the Jets are trying to build their offense and JuJu would immediately help them. It’s also a great sign that the Jets and JuJu have been in talks about a contract.
Interesting development in the WR market: The #Jets have been having conversations with #Steelers FA WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, sources say, a potential target in their offense. Despite having signed Corey Davis, NYJ may not be done adding playmakers. Smith-Schuster is one to watch.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
The Jets also still have plenty of cap space to spend in free agency. They have an estimated $50 million still to spend, according to spotrac.com. With that much money, the Jets may even be willing to overpay for the former Pro Bowler.
Furthermore, at USC who was JuJu’s quarterback?
That would happen to be current New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. This can be another reason why JuJu ends up in New York to play with his former teammate. The Jets are an interesting spot, but with their high cap space and Sam Darnold as their current quarterback, this is likely a solid destination for JuJu Smith-Schuster.
3. Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders are a sneaky good destination for JuJu. The Raiders could use a talented receiver for their roster. Although they do have tight end Darren Waller, giving quarterback Derek Carr another Pro Bowler to throw to can be the difference-maker for this offense.
This offseason, the Raiders have made some moves regarding their wide receiver unit. They lost Nelson Agholor but did sign former Buffalo Bills receiver John Brown. Despite this, don’t think the Raiders are content with their receiving core just yet.
The only problem that the Raiders run into with signing JuJu is their cap situation. The move of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who signed a two-year, $26 million deal, puts Las Vegas with only an estimated $8.5 million in cap space, according to spotrac.com.
However, if the Raiders want a chance at JuJu, they will make the necessary moves to do so. They just recently traded away star center Rodney Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals for picks. Could this be a sign of freeing cap space to sign the former USC star? Nonetheless, this would be a solid fit for both sides.
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