Former Steelers Fan Favorite Signing With Rival Patriots: Report

Mike Tomlin

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin saw one of his former players sign with an arch rival on March 15.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster won the Super Bowl during the 2022 season. Now, he’s cashing in with a big payday.

NFL Network’s Taylor Bisciotti reported on March 15 that the former Steelers fan favorite has agreed to a contract with the New England Patriots.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the deal is worth $33 million over three seasons.

Smith-Schuster confirmed the news with his own Twitter account, sharing his excitement to be joining the Patriots.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Jumping From Chiefs to Patriots

Smith-Schuster is signing a three-year contract with the Patriots following a pair of one-year deals — one with Pittsburgh and the other with the Kansas City Chiefs.

With the Steelers, 26-year-old receiver entered the NFL as one of the youngest players in the league. He didn’t celebrate his 21st birthday until after the midway point of his rookie season.

Smith-Schuster arrived in Pittsburgh as a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He shined early in his career as a compliment to 4-time All-Pro Antonio Brown.

When Brown left the team following the 2018 season, Smith-Schuster was expected to become the team’s top weapon, but he struggled to continue developing without Ben Roethlisberger in 2019.

During the 2020 season, Smith-Schuster led the team with 97 receptions, but the Steelers offense switched to a short, quick passing attack, and Diontae Johnson along with Chase Claypool became Roethlisberger’s preferred targets when throwing deep. Smith-Schuster posted a career-low 8.6 yards per catch in 2020.

Smith-Schuster had the opportunity to leave Pittsburgh in free agency following the 2020 season, but he returned to the Steelers on a one-year, $8 million deal. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury knocked him out for all but five regular season games in 2021. He did, however, return for the postseason.

After speculation that he could return to the Steelers on another short deal, Smith-Schuster signed a prove-it deal — one-year, $3.76 million contract — with the Chiefs. During 2022, he led all Kansas City receivers with 101 targets, 78 receptions and 933 receiving yards.

In the Super Bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith-Schuster recorded 7 catches for 53 yards.

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Legacy in Pittsburgh

There was a little speculation that Smith-Schuster could return to the Steelers in a year when he left for the Chiefs, but no rumors appeared to materialize that he was a serious candidate to return to Pittsburgh this offseason.

But now with his Steelers career likely finished, Smith-Schuster leaves behind a somewhat complicated legacy with Pittsburgh.

He was very popular during his five seasons with the Steelers in large part because of his social media accounts. During his rookie year, Smith-Schuster made headlines when he shared on Twitter that the bike he would ride to practice was stolen. Steelers fans started a Twitter hashtag #TeamFindJujusBike in an effort to restore the receiver’s only mode of transportation.

Smith-Schuster also became famous for dancing videos he would post on his TikTok account.

But the young receiver drew the ire of Steelers Nation when he appeared to throw shade toward Mike Tomlin early into his Chiefs tenure.

During Sunday Night Football in Week 4, NBC Sports sideline reporter Melissa Stark reported that Smith-Schuster told her that he learned more about NFL offenses in just months with Andy Reid and the Chiefs than he did during his five years with the Steelers.

Now with Smith-Schuster signing with the Patriots, his popularity in Pittsburgh may hit an all-time low.

Smith-Schuster had posted 401 catches for 4,788 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career. He will make his return to Pittsburgh when the Steelers host the Patriots during the 2023 season.

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