JuJu Smith-Schuster Won't Rule Out Steelers Return or AFC North in Next Free Agency Run

Don't rule out a return to the Steelers. Don't rule out staying in the AFC North, either.
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers got their wide receiver back for another season, but the future is very much uncertain for JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

Smith-Schuster signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Steelers this offseason, returning to Pittsburgh for Ben Roethlisberger's last ride. Next spring, the Pro Bowler will hit the open market again, looking to grab a longer contract. 

"My value is my value," Smith-Schuster told reporters on Wednesday. "Everything that happened this year was different, with the cap being low and everything. So, next year is obviously a year will be so much better. Knowing that I'll be on the market again and knowing that every team will offer something on the table to what my value is. But at the end of the day, this year, I got to go out there and ball out, do what I've got to do and put stuff on tape to make my value even better."

This year, Smith-Schuster was offered contracts from the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. However, his decision to return to Pittsburgh came from the mindset that his best option was to return on a one-year deal and look for a longer contract next March. 

Without putting a price tag on himself, Smith-Schuster said money could influence plenty of his decision-making - leaving the AFC North an option, with the understanding, it'll upset Steelers fans. 

"There's a lot of times when you see other guys go to other teams in the North. Like people say, if the price is right," Smith-Schuster laughed. "I also do take into consideration that I do consider the fans. That fanbase, they made me who I am today. They made me a name.

"The fanbase that I've created in Pittsburgh will carry a very very long way. I think they'll still support me wherever I go - but the North."

He also isn't eliminating the Steelers. 

"I think to come back for another four more years and have nine years as a Steeler would be tremendous and remarkable," Smith-Schuster said. "It would be unheard of from a receiver standpoint. No doubt. Don't get it wrong. Pittsburgh is definitely still an option on the table, and I know that they'll fight hard and they're one of the teams that have the most cap.

"Then again, there's a lot of people on a one-year deal. You've got to take into consideration that you've got to play your butt off because you never know what's going to happen. And that's how I see it."

Overall, it's a waiting game for the fifth-year receiver. Smith-Schuster is part of a group including Eric Ebron and James Washington, looking for a new contract after the 2021 season. 

Although a good statistical year would certainly help players' contracts, Smith-Schuster knows if the team is winning, everyone is getting paid. 

"People want their touches. People want to reach their personal goals on the field," Smith-Schuster said. "But at the end of the day, you win these games, everyone gets paid. You saw with the Chiefs. The Chiefs won, everyone got paid. ... You go out and win these games, win the playoffs, win a Super Bowl, I guarantee everyone will have a chance to eat."

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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