During an Instagram Live interview with the NFL Network’s Taylor Bisciotti on Thursday, ex-Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster tried to explain why he left Pittsburgh for the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
“Going with the Steelers and what they offered me, it wasn’t what I wasn’t looking for,” Smith-Schuster said. “I needed to go somewhere where I’m able to play that one year, just play and ball. And, so, the Chiefs were the best fit for me. So I took the opportunity. Last year I stayed because I wanted to play with Ben (Roethlisberger) and play with my guys one more year, trying to make a run for it. We fell short. Injuries actually happen. Being able to come back to a team that wants me twice in back-to-back years of free agency shows a lot.”
By saying he wanted to play on a one-year deal “and ball,” Smith-Schuster may have been suggesting that the Steelers wanted to lock him in at a low rate on a multi-year contract.
Or he could’ve simply been referring to his marginal one-year contract from K.C. being better than any marginal contract he may have been offered by the Steelers.
After all, as ProFootballTalk eventually discovered, the agreement has a base value of only $3.25 million, with only $2.49 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Smith-Schuster’s mother publicly popped off about the Steelers not making much of an effort to keep her son, while he was claiming he wanted to stay. However, Smith-Schuster was more diplomatic while speaking with Bisciotti.
“I love Pittsburgh,” Smith-Schuster insisted. “It’s an amazing city. The fan base is incredible. I wanted to stay. Their free agency has been amazing this year. It would’ve been nice to be a part of that. But it came down to what was best for me, and my career, and what I needed to do. I had to choose ‘Chiefs Kingdom.’”
Smith-Schuster quickly ascended the Chiefs receiver depth chart because, within a week of his arrival, the franchise decided to trade star receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.
“I had no idea,” Smith-Schuster said of the blockbuster trade. “Next thing you know, it happened within the first hour it was put out. I played with him in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago. Playing with him again would’ve been really fun and really cool. But, obviously, he had to do what’s right for his career and situation and I respect that.”
Smith-Schuster also gets to play with quarterback Patrick Mahomes now, and he says the two have already established practice dates to work out.
On some other matters:
• Smith-Schuster says the injured shoulder he suffered in Pittsburgh that caused him to miss most of 2021 is now “100%.”
• He’ll be wearing No. 9 in Kansas City, which was his number in college at USC.
• Perhaps most surprisingly, Smith-Schuster says he won’t be doing TikTok videos with Mahomes’ equally ubiquitous social media star brother, Jackson.
Jackson Mahomes had previously reached out to JuJu, hoping they could “collab” on TikToks.
“I won’t be doing TikTok collaborations,” Smith-Schuster said. “That is not happening. I’m not making TikToks with Jackson Mahomes. I’m there to just focus on ball. Have fun. Not trying to be a distraction to anyone on the team. And just go out there and just win.”
Gee, what a novel concept. Where was that approach in Pittsburgh, JuJu?