Browns Warned to Avoid Former Steelers WR in Free Agency

Getty Images Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Cleveland Browns will be looking to beef up their wide receiver corps this offseason and one name the team is being urged to avoid is former Pittsburgh Steelers pass-catcher JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster will be a free agent for the second time in as many offseasons, signing just a one-year deal last offseason to remain with the Steelers despite drawing interest elsewhere. However, the “bet on yourself” plan didn’t go well for Smith-Schuster after he suffered a shoulder injury and sat out the majority of the season.

Bleacher Report labeled Smith-Schuster as a free agent the Browns need to avoid this offseason, and here’s why.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is not someone the team should prioritize signing. While he has been reliable in the slot for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is coming off a significant shoulder injury that limited him to just five contests.

It remains to be seen if the injury will have any lingering effects on the wideout’s availability, but the Browns should be leery about trying to lure him away from their AFC North rivals.

What’s not mentioned is that Smith-Schuster would have a hard time winning over Browns fans after becoming a meme following the Steelers’ loss to the Browns in the postseason last year with his, “Browns is the Browns” statement.

“I said what I said. I’m not gonna change it back,” Smith-Schuster said on Fox Sports Radio with Doug Gottlieb. “They’ve got a billboard now in Cleveland, just because of me. I should’ve trademarked it then — could’ve got some money off of it.”

Smith-Schuster has one 1,000-yard season under his belt, which came in 2018 when he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. His production has waned, barely surpassing that number in his past three seasons combined.

Browns Understand Receivers Need Upgrade


Andrew Berry: "We do believe that we have a lot of core pieces on the roster"Andrew Berry addresses the media on January 11th, 2022. #BrownsMedia #PressConference2022-01-11T16:44:52Z

The Browns parted ways with Odell Beckham Jr. during the season after some trade deadline drama, and while his production wasn’t otherworldly, the team had a hard time getting production from its wide receivers following his departure. Former sixth-round pick Donovan Peoples-Jones showed flashes and led the team in receiving with 597 yards and three touchdowns. Veteran Jarvis Landry was next, with 570 yards and a pair of scores, followed by Rashard Higgins, who managed just 275 yards.

The Browns understand that to be a contender, their pass-catchers need to be upgraded.

“I told you guys at the bye week that I thought our passing offense was too inconsistent at that point, and I think that remains to be the case as we exit the year,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said on Tuesday, January 12. “We will pull it apart, look at it and obviously make the necessary changes and improvements that are needed, whether that is externally, internally or schematically.”


Browns Rolling With Baker Mayfield

The Browns plan to roll with Baker Mayfield at quarterback next season, which Berry made very clear in his press conference.

“We fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back,” Berry said.

Mayfield passed for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season but slumped down the stretch, tossing seven of those interceptions in the final three games with the Browns hunting a playoff spot.

Mayfield will get healthy this offseason and will likely have a few additions to the wide receiver room to work with next season in what will be his last chance to prove he’s worthy of being the long-term solution for the Browns at quarterback.


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