Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, one of the NFL’s top remaining free agents, is re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he announced Friday. But they weren’t necessarily his best offer.
According to the NFL Network, Smith-Schuster turned down a one-year, $9 million offer from the wide receiver-needy Ravens, with another $4 million available in incentives. The Kansas City Chiefs’ one-year offer was worth $8 million, with $3 million available in incentives. The Steelers? Just $8 million in 2021.
“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here!” Smith-Schuster tweeted Friday. “PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!”
Smith-Schuster, 24, averaged a career-low 8.6 yards per catch last season, but he has three 900-plus-yard seasons since entering the NFL in 2017. With Dez Bryant and Willie Snead IV not expected to return in free agency, the Ravens don’t have a player under contract who’s reached that threshold even once.
After Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey jokingly tweeted that Smith-Schuster “didn’t even let me give my recruiting pitch,” Smith-Schuster apologized and said he had Ravens teammates and coaches “calling throughout.” He wished Humphrey and the team luck this offseason.
A handful of potential starting wide receivers remain unsigned — Kenny Golladay, T.Y. Hilton, Sammy Watkins and Antonio Brown are available — but the market has thinned considerably since the NFL’s legal tampering period opened Monday.
The Ravens have had one of the NFL’s least productive wide receiver rooms since quarterback Lamar Jackson entered the NFL; last season, they were the only team with under 2,000 receiving yards at the position (137 catches for 1,729 yards). Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has shown flashes of being a potential No. 1 receiver, and Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay are both former third-round picks with impressive athleticism, but the team lacks a proven possession wide receiver.
Asked about the Ravens’ needs at the position last week, general manager Eric DeCosta said the team has “an idea of what we’re looking for. It doesn’t really serve my purposes to tell you exactly what we’re looking for, player-wise, but we do talk about that stuff.”
He added: “Our goal is to build a diverse team with a lot of different types of players that can help you in a lot of different situations, with depth at all positions, that fit under the salary cap and give you a chance, long-term, to succeed.”