JuJu Smith-Schuster’s tenure in Pittsburgh appears to be coming to an end. Ed Bouchette of The Athletic has reported that the Steelers are envisioning a 2021 roster without the likes of not only their star receiver, but also running back James Conner and offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva. All of whom Bouchette expects to walk following the 2020 season, as it is “not likely” that Smith-Schuster gets a new contract in the Steel City.
Could the former USC standout and 2018 Pro Bowler find his way to the New York Giants after next season? It’s certainly a possibility, and one that makes plenty of sense once you take a closer look.
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Golden Tate for JuJu Swap?
Hate on Dave Gettleman all you want, but by most accounts, he appears to be thriving at the helm of the Giants’ roster. He just hit a home run in the 2020 NFL Draft. Prior to that, he found likely franchise cornerstones with early-round selections of both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. While his Odell Beckham Jr. trade looks more and more like a Giants win nearly every day.
The Giants have the makings of a potential NFC East threat in a year or two. However, the OBJ trade did strip them of one thing, a true dynamic number-one receiver.
Darius Slayton offers arguably the most upside of all the Giants’ receivers following his eight-touchdown rookie campaign, but would likely be best served in a WR2 role. Sterling Shepard is as solid as they come at the position, but I wouldn’t say he strikes true fear into opposing defenses. Golden Tate is very much like Shepard, a gritty player who plays his best working out of the slot.
However, Tate will be 33-years-old by the time the 2021 NFL season starts. According to Spotrac, Big Blue has a potential out of Tate’s contract following 2020, which in return would free up even more cap space for a team that is projected to have nearly $50 million in spending money entering the 2021 free agency.
Swapping out an aging Tate for Smith-Schuster, who will be just 24-years old when his contract with Pittsburgh expires, would seem like the perfect play for New York. The addition of Smith-Schuster would help fast track Daniel Jones’ progress into a potential franchise quarterback, and give the team a dynamic QB-WR duo for years to come.
JuJu Was Made For the Big Apple
The bright lights of the Big Apple would be the perfect place for a player of Smith-Schuster’s star power.
Some may be wary of bringing in a receiver with star allure after the Odell Beckham Jr. era in New York. However, while Smith-Schuster may be a modern-day icon in the social media driven landscape we currently live in, he’s the furthest thing from a diva.
Smith-Schuster has time and time again taken the high road after numerous unwarranted attacks from former teammate Antonio Brown. He’s the same player that notably rode his bike to the Steelers’ facility as a rookie. He’s kept his head down the entirety of this year’s offseason, putting in the work to prove his doubters wrong after a disappointing 2019 season, and always seems to say the right thing.
JuJu to NY the Perfect Match?
Some would argue Smith-Schuster isn’t a WR1. His production following Antonio Brown’s trade out of Pittsburgh would certainly back up that sentiment. However, let’s not forget that the 23-year-old receiver was just two years removed from a 111-reception, 1,400+ yard receiving campaign.
Even in a down, injury-riddled season a year ago, Smith-Schuster still managed to average 84.2 receiving yards in five of his final seven games of the year, catching passes from the likes of Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges.
Joining the Giants would help Smith-Schuster grow his brand, evolve as a wide receiver, and add victories to New York’s win column. Big Blue has the need, the salary cap, the surrounding talent, and the platform to help Smith-Schuster develop into the mainstay superstar athlete we saw glimpses of not so long ago.