This Starter Won't Be Back With the Steelers in 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster / Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After his breakout campaign in 2018, most fans expected JuJu Smith-Schuster to become the No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh after Antonio Brown's departure. Fast forward a year, and the former Pro Bowler had his worst season in 2019, accumulating only 552 yards receiving, which was third-best on the team.

Even though quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured for most of 2019, that shouldn't be an excuse for Smith-Schuster. The other two starting receivers on the Steelers, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, also had backups throwing them the ball, and had more production than the USC product. Smith-Schuster was hampered a bit by injuries, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

With Smith-Schuster being a free agent in 2021 and the Steelers adding another young pass catcher in the draft in Chase Claypool, it seems possible that the 2017 second-round pick may need to find a new home next offseason.

After his down year in 2019, the Steelers are unlikely to give Smith-Schuster a lucrative contract, and may opt for cheaper options at the position. If both Johnson and Washington take the next step in their progression next season, there's little reason for the Steelers to spend more for someone who's underperforming.

Don't be surprised if the front office lets the former USC star walk after 2020.