The Kansas City Chiefs already have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Still, they’ll probably want to come back even stronger in 2022. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster could be on the team’s radar again. The Pro Bowler chose loyalty over money in the 2021 offseason, but he may come to his senses and join forces with Patrick Mahomes.
JuJu Smith-Schuster reportedly interested in signing with the Chiefs
JuJu Smith-Schuster spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he will become an unrestricted free agent again and could be looking for a new home in 2022.
According to Pro Football Network‘s Aaron Wilson, Smith-Schuster would strongly consider joining the Kansas City Chiefs if there was mutual interest.
The Chiefs made a run at the USC product in the 2021 offseason. But Smith-Schuster turned down offers from Kansas City and the Baltimore Ravens to rejoin the Steelers.
“A year ago, Chiefs coach Andy Reid recruited Smith-Schuster and sent him photos of the Lombardi Trophy,” said Wilson.
Well, Kansas City could possibly be competing for another Super Bowl to cap the 2021 season. Patrick Mahomes and company are in the mix every year. It would come as no surprise to see the 25-year-old wideout prioritize winning after a few down years in Pittsburgh.
The 25-year-old made a mistake re-signing with Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected JuJu Smith-Schuster with the No. 62 overall pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The organization gave the Long Beach, California, native his first shot at the next level. It appears the fifth-year wide receiver felt he owed the franchise some loyalty.
The Kansas City Chiefs and AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens made strong pushes for the Pro Bowl receiver. Despite generous offers, neither could poach him from the Steelers.
Smith-Schuster re-signed with Pittsburgh for the 2021 season, inking a one-year, $8 million deal. In an interview with NFL Network‘s Taylor Bisciotti, the wideout admitted that he took less money to re-up with the Steelers.
“What they had on the table was probably my third lowest offer,” said Smith-Schuster. “But looking long-term, this is where I see myself. Obviously, Ben is coming back. I think that’s really cool. Have the opportunity to play with him one more year, and knowing I get to play with my boys, it’s going to be a great year.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster played just five games in 2021 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He caught 15 passes for 129 yards and zero touchdowns.
Injury aside, he wasn’t highly productive in the five games he did play. Smith-Schuster is no longer the No. 1 option (or possibly No. 2) in Pittsburgh. The prospect of catching passes from Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins Jr. in 2022 doesn’t sound promising, so a change of scenery could help him get back on track.
The Steelers WR could thrive playing with Patrick Mahomes
JuJu Smith-Schuster has yet to step into the No. 1 wide receiver role the Steelers hoped he would when Antonio Brown left. He may not be that guy, and that’s OK. Still, he’s only 25 years old and has a lot of football left ahead of him. The former USC Trojans standout should want to go somewhere that maximizes his talent.
Patrick Mahomes is the most gifted quarterback in the NFL right now, and he’s on pace to be an all-time great. While he does play with some exceptional talents, Mahomes makes the players around him much better.
Smith-Schuster could truly thrive in Andy Reid’s system. For one, he wouldn’t have the pressure of being the top option. That title belongs to either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce, depending on the game. The Steelers wideout can be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 option on most teams.
Smith-Schuster would bring something different to the table than speedster Mecole Hardman. He’s a reliable big-bodied pass-catcher who could create problems for defenses in short-yardage and red-zone situations.
If he’s willing to part ways with Pittsburgh, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs should welcome him with open arms.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference