It’s rumor season in the NFL and the Las Vegas Raiders have been right in the middle of many. They’ve been involved in some quarterback chatter but that’s far from their biggest need. While the focus should be on the defense this offseason, the team could have a need at wide receiver if Nelson Agholor decides to leave.
This year’s free-agent class is ripe with top wide receiver talent. Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson are the top names available but the Raiders likely can’t afford them. One name to keep an eye on is JuJu Smith-Schuster. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, Las Vegas is “very interested” in the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, via Andrew Fillipponi.
This isn’t the first time Smith-Schuster has been linked to the Raiders. The former Pro Bowler recently suggested he’d be open to joining the silver and black on a Twitch live stream. The Raiders don’t have a true No.1 wide receiver and it’s possible Smith-Schuster could be that for them. However, his dip in production since Antonio Brown left in 2019 should raise some major red flags.
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Smith-Schuster to Raiders Makes Sense for Unlikely Reason
Smith-Schuster is a good player but the Raiders need to be careful before signing him to a big contract. He was making a lot of headlines for the wrong reasons last season. The wide receiver has been a lot of focus on his social media presence and that had rubbed people the wrong way.
While fans and other teams can find it annoying, it might actually be a good thing for the Raiders. Smith-Schuster has a very big following on Twitch with over 258,000 followers. The Raiders and Allegiant Stadium struck a partnership with the company that began in 2020. With the partnership, Twitch will hold eSports competitions and other events at the stadium in Las Vegas. Which football player would make a ton of sense to have at a lot of those events? Smith-Schuster.
The Raiders’ reported interest in Smith-Schuster might be just as much of a business decision as it is a football decision. The team is in a new city and lacks star power on the roster right now. Adding a popular player like Smith-Schuster could draw a lot of young fans to the team. Obviously, what’s best for the product on the field is most important but it’s not like Smith-Schuster is a bad player.
Raiders Have Bad Luck With Former Steelers WRs
A Smith-Schuster addition could make sense to the Raiders for a number of reasons, but they still need to be cautious. They’ve had terrible luck when it comes to picking up former Steelers wide receivers. In 2018, the team traded a third-round pick to acquire Martavis Bryant. He played in eight games for the team before getting injured and hasn’t been in the NFL since.
In 2019, the Raiders traded for Antonio Brown. Everybody already knows how that story ended. Smith-Schuster is very different than both of those players but the Raiders have to at least be a bit apprehensive.