In an NFL world that has found itself describing most of their playmakers as “divas”, it’s good to see some positivity being shared between two teammates in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool who just so happen to be playing the same position. We all know that Smith-Schuster was a free agent this past summer, with many opportunities to take his talents elsewhere. It was reported that Smith-Schuster received deals from the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, deals that were strong enough to gauge Smith-Schuster’s attention. Although many believed he would find himself back in the ‘Burgh for the start of the 2021 season, there were some rumblings about him possibly joining an AFC rival. As we know, he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Steelers, betting on himself, in hopes of success for this upcoming year.
With that being said, that leaves the Steelers with four viable options at the receiver position, never a bad problem to have. James Washington, Diontae Johnon, Smith-Schuster and 2nd year standout Claypool are all on the docket to be catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger in this new Matt Canada led offensive scheme. All have proved they can perform at the NFL level and have seemed to gain Ben’s trust — which is rule number one.
In a Steelers offense that, in the past couple of years, has shared the true number one WR position amongst their top three targets, it’s hard to say who will get the bulk of the targets during this tough 2021 schedule. Although in some situations, that particular question could lead to some animosity when it comes to re-signing Smith-Schuster back even with who we have on the roster at that position, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem with the Steeler receiving core — in fact, they welcome it.
Many players when Smith-Schuster re-signed with the team shared their support via social media, exclaiming their excitement in bringing that good JuJu back onto the squad. Even one of his counterparts, Claypool shared via the Steelers website how he feels about bringing that type of player back onto the team:
“I think a lot of people were expecting him not to come back, not because he didn’t want to but because of the cap space situation. We all knew he really wanted to come back, we just didn’t know if it was possible. When he came back, I was excited because not only is he a good friend, but a good player, a good teammate too. He does a lot for us. Always good to have a guy like that in the building.”
Yes, these are the types of answers we expect from any professional player when asked about a guy joining their team, but there is no doubt in my mind these feelings are genuine. Although Claypool did lead all rookies in 2020 with 9 touchdown catches, Smith-Schuster led Pittsburgh with 97 receptions last year and was third on the team with 831 yards and has continued to have continued success in his young career. If anything, it’s refreshing to see two guys at the same position welcoming each other’s talents on the squad. The Steelers have a young, skilled receiving core with Smith-Schuster being labeled the veteran at 24 years old. He has been in the league and played with some talented guys and has already proven to be the leader of this group. Hopefully he can remain on the team for years to come, making everyone around him better in the process.
How excited are you to see this wide receiving group flourish next season? Comment below!