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Steelers will address JuJu Smith-Schuster’s contract “when appropriate”

Josh Alper

After the Steelers parted ways with Antonio Brown, the hope in Pittsburgh was that JuJu Smith-Schuster would build on his impressive first two seasons now that he was the team’s No. 1 receiver.

That didn’t happen. Smith-Schuster missed four games with injuries and the loss of Ben Roethlisberger early in the season left the team with shaky quarterback play the rest of the way. Smith-Schuster wound up with 42 catches for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns, which Steelers owner Art Rooney II said doesn’t dim the team’s hopes about his future.

While that may be the case, Rooney didn’t sound like he was prioritizing a new deal with Smith-Schuster before his rookie contract expires after the 2020 season.

“Well again, it was a tough season to evaluate with the different quarterbacks and some of JuJu’s injuries so it’s a tough season to evaluate from a lot of different standpoints,” Rooney said, via PennLive.com. “Obviously we still think highly of JuJu and still think he’s going to be an outstanding player in the league moving forward and we will address the contract situation when it’s appropriate.”

Smith-Schuster’s not in the best negotiating position off the 2019 season and the Steelers have long had a policy of not negotiating contracts during the regular season, so Smith-Schuster’s future with the Steelers may wind up remaining a question in January 2021.