One of the toughest things about being a professional athlete is the business side of things. It is sometimes cold-hearted, but franchises and players have to do what they feel is best for them. Sometimes, that means leaving a city that you loved, which JuJu Smith-Schuster did this offseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After spending the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Steelers, Smith-Schuster signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent.
It was the second consecutive year that the USC product was a free agent, as he re-signed with the Steelers last year. But, that just wasn’t in the cards this time. One positive is that he will be catching passes from Patrick Mahomes in a high-octane offense that should present him plenty of opportunities to produce and cash in as a free agent next offseason.
Despite leaving, Smith-Schuster was still feeling the love during a recent visit back to Pittsburgh. He was hosting a fundraiser and spoke about how much he appreciated the fans coming out as he never got to truly thank them once he signed with the Chiefs.
“It was just very important. It was huge to come back,” Smith-Schuster said. “I spent five years here, to come back to the city where I started my career. When you sign and go to a new team, you move so fast, that I literally picked up all my stuff and moved. I didn’t have time to say bye to the fans. What we’re doing today is really cool.”
In addition to saying goodbye to Smith-Schuster, the Steelers also saw long-time starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ride off into the sunset as he retired this offseason. Had things gone his way this offseason, he would have remained with the Steelers.
But, Smith-Schuster didn’t close the door on returning to the Steel City at some point later in his career.
“I could see myself back here. Even today, this shows a lot, that I still have fans out here coming out to support me.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster was one of the most popular players on the roster during his tenure in Pittsburgh. The fans loved his energy on and off the field, as he was as excited making a big play to get the them going as he was hosting an event like the one he did this past weekend.