Based on this recent report, the Steelers might have messed up their future.
Before the draft, Pittsburgh Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette told New York Post’s Andrew Sicilianno that “JuJu is not coming back in 2021.” In a Q&A session with fans, Bouchette reiterated those feelings, and also said that running back James Conner is unlikely back as well.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, what was GM Kevin Colbert thinking? Why hang onto these guys for one season when you could have probably landed some value. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Steelers had the fewest amount of picks in the top-100.
One could argue that the 2018 Steelers team MVP could be worth two first-round picks, but his injury plagued 2019 dampered his value. However, Smith-Schuster is a great bargain for 2020. He is due to make just $1 million this season.
Smith-Schuster’s name floated around in the rumor mill for a trade, most specifically with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers owned the No. 13 and 31 overall pick in the draft. The Steelers did not possess a first-round pick after a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
This would have been a perfect chance for the 49ers to trade their first-round pick in exchange for JuJu Smith-Schuster if they felt he would sign an extension.
If not the 49ers, surely a team would have given the Steelers a second or third round pick. The Steelers could have packaged their two second round picks in exchange for a first rounder and nabbed a better receiver than Chase Claypool.
Henry Ruggs II, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Reagor, and Justin Jefferson all went in the first round. By hanging onto JuJu, the team could strike out on all of these players.