A former Pro Bowler is bolting the Pittsburgh Steelers for a familiar AFC rival.
As announced by Juju Smith-Schuster himself, the 25-year-old wide receiver is leaving the Steelers for the Kansas City Chiefs. The veteran wide receiver announced the decision on Twitter on Friday, March 18 and by releasing the following statement.
“To all of Steelers nation,
Thank you for taking me in and making me a part of the family from the moment that I was drafted,” said Smith-Schuster. “You all took me in so quickly, and I really needed it. I was a wide-eyed 20-year-old who was sent to the east coast away from my family for the first time in my life, and you made me feel right at home, despite all of the loneliness I should have felt. These have been the best five years in my life. I owe so much to the fans who embraced me and who made playing on Sunday’s in Pittsburgh so special. It was an honor to wear the black and gold for you all! I love you!”
According to Field Yates of ESPN, the deal is for one year and $10.75 million.
Smith Schuster’s Steelers Career Peaked in 2018
Smith-Schuster has served as a starter for the Steelers since his rookie season in 2017. The peak of his stint in Pittsburgh came during the 2018 campaign when he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors that season. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith-Schuster posted a 81.8 offensive grade in 2018, ranking 16th among all qualifying reeivers.
However, he’s failed to regain that form ever since. Smith-Schuster posted just 42 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns during the 2019 season in his first year playing without Antonio Brown.
He had a decent season in 2020 as he caught 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns, but was surpassed in the pecking order by Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool during the 2021 season. Smith-Schuster was limited to just five regular season games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury before returning for the Steelers’ playoff game.
He’ll look to recapture some of that elite form in Kansas City as he’ll serve as one of Patrick Mahomes’ leading wideouts entering the 2022 season.
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Trubisky: Steelers is ‘Definitely’ Where I Want to Be
The Steelers’ potential starting quarterback for the 2022 season is happy with his decision to sign with Pittsburgh.
Not long after the legal tampering period of free agency opened earlier this week, the Steelers agreed to terms with Trubisky on a two-year, $14 million contract.
The veteran quarterback did not hold back in making it clear that playing for the Steelers is where he wanted to be.
“Going through free agency with my agent, we went through all the options to see where would be a great fit for me,” Trubisky said. “When we found out Pittsburgh had interest, I said this is where I wanted to be. … It happened very quickly, we jumped on it, and I’m happy to be here.”
Trubisky will compete with holdovers Mason Rudolph and Dwyane Haskins for the starting job to crown the Steelers’ first quarterback of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.