News & Analysis

With uncertainty about Brown’s future swirling, Smith-Schuster has already shown that he can be a number one option

By Ben Linsey
Jan 18, 2019

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Dec 17, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) takes the field to play the New England Patriots at Heinz Field. The Patriots won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t too long ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers had arguably the most complete set of skill position players in the NFL – included were the likes of all-pro running back Le’Veon Bell, all-pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, the electric home-run threat Martavis Bryant, and a young rookie that had burst onto the scene in JuJu Smith-Schuster.

As the Steelers head into the 2019 offseason, that list is dwindling. Bell appears destined to take his talents elsewhere after failing to reach a long-term deal with the Steelers and sitting out the entire 2018 season.  Bryant was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick and has since been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Lastly, Brown had a disagreement with the team prior to Week 17, resulting in a benching and a subsequent schism between him and the Steelers organization that has bubbled over to social media. Trade rumors have spiraled since, especially after team president Art Rooney II said that it was “hard to envision” Brown being with the team for the start of training camp next season.

If Brown indeed does not return, that leaves one player from that previous list – JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster has become one of the premier personalities and brands in the league just two years into his career. His flair for social media and high-profile video game escapades with cultural icons such as Drake and Travis Scott have brought him a new audience of fans. However, do not let that distract you from the fact that he has also developed into one of the best young talents at the position.

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