Ex-Steelers Linebacker Arthur Moats Supports Team Bringing Back Pro Bowl WR

George Pickens JuJu Smith-Schuster

Getty Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats supports the idea of the team bringing back Pro Bowl wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to support George Pickens.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need more wide receiver depth on the 2024 roster. Former Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats suggested the Steelers could find receiving depth with the return of a familiar face this offseason — JuJu Smith-Schuster.

“Yeah, I’ve said that. I’m definitely on that train,” Moats said on The Arthur Moats Experience podcast about Smith-Schuster potentially returning to Pittsburgh.

“But he’s still under contract in New England. I was waiting, I was waiting. I’m like, ‘All right, it’s the weird time.'”

Smith-Schuster signed a 3-year, $25.5 million contract with the New England Patriots last offseason.

According to Spotrac, the Patriots would take a bigger dead cap hit releasing Smith-Schuster than cap hit with him on the roster. So, the veteran receiver has remained on the Patriots roster.

To bring Smith-Schuster back to Pittsburgh, the Steelers would have to acquire him in a trade.

Smith-Schuster has played seven NFL seasons, five of which in Pittsburgh. He made the 2018 Pro Bowl with the Steelers while recording 111 receptions, 1,426 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

With the Patriots last season, Smith-Schuster posted 29 catches, 260 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in 11 games.

Could the Steelers Acquire WR JuJu Smith-Schuster in a Trade?

Moats’ co-host Deke called an April Fool’s tweet about the Steelers acquiring Smith-Schuster from the Patriots for a sixth-round pick “believable.” SI.com’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein also proposed the Steelers could land Smith-Schuster for a 2024 sixth-rounder.

For that low cost, it could be worth the Steelers taking a flier on the 27-year-old receiver. But that could be more because the Steelers are rather desperate for receiving depth at the moment.

After trading Diontae Johnson during the first week of free agency, George Pickens became the only wideout currently on the Pittsburgh roster who had more than 209 receiving yards last season.

Since the Johnson trade, the Steelers signed Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins to league-minimum contracts. However, Jefferson and Watkins combined for only 351 receiving yards in 2023.

With Smith-Schuster, the Steelers would be adding better quality receiving depth. Jefferson and Watkins have each posted just one season with at least 400 receiving yards. Smith-Schuster has surpassed the 800-yard total four times in his career.

His outgoing personality made the receiver a popularity player while in Pittsburgh from 2017-21. That and his familiarity with the organization could make him an attractive target if the price is a low draft pick.

Reasons the Steelers Shouldn’t Bring Back Smith-Schuster

If the Steelers were getting the 2020 version of Smith-Schuster from the Patriots, it would likely be a no-brainer to re-acquire the former second-rounder. But injuries have significantly slowed down Smith-Schuster over the past three years.

In 2021, he played just five regular season games, registering 15 catches for 129 yards. Therefore, he’s had under 275 receiving yards in two of the past three years.

SI.com’s All Steelers Talk’s Stephen Thompson would have considered the idea of the Steelers trading for Smith-Schuster before the Jefferson or Watkins signings. But he argued it doesn’t make much sense to trade for Smith-Schuster now.

“JuJu is still relatively young given his time in the league. There’s a high likelihood that he could come back from whatever injuries he had and be a productive player again,” Thompson said on All Steelers Talk on April 8. “But you’ve already got two slot guys that I’m not super intrigued by.

“I don’t think JuJu brings you anything different or different enough especially to warrant a trade or giving up a draft pick.”

In a way, trading for Smith-Schuster wouldn’t really help Pittsburgh’s receiver depth. Thompson argued Smith-Schuster, Jefferson and Watkins would all compete for the same slot receiver role in the Pittsburgh offense.

Third-year receiver Calvin Austin III is yet another option for the Steelers in the slot.

Read More