JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Michael Reaves | Getty Images
If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to re-sign star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a long-term deal, the club will need to negotiate with a different agent.
Smith-Schuster departed agency Roc Nation, which entertainer Jay Z founded, and joined respected National Football League agent Chafie Fields at Wasserman Media Group’s sports division, the agency announced on Monday. Smith-Schuster joins a roster led by Fields that includes Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper and San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Fields, the firm’s the executive president of team sports, also added National Basketball Association star James Harden to his clients in January.
Smith-Schuster, 24, signed a one-year pact with the Steelers worth $8 million after producing 97 catches for 831 yards and nine touchdowns in the 2020 season. His best season came in 2018 when he made the Pro Bowl following 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns.
By signing a one-year agreement, Smith-Schuster is essentially betting on himself that he’ll produce a better season statistically and avoid a significant injury. Hence, he could be one of the most sought-after players in the 2022 free agency class and cash in on a higher salary cap that could reach $208 million, up from $182.5 for the 2021 season.
Currently, Cooper’s five-year, $100 million contract is the most expensive deal in the NFL for a receiver. Fields negotiated that deal in the 2020 offseason. Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins ($27.2 million) and new Tennessee Titans wideout Julio Jones ($22 million) are the highest-paid per year, according to Spotrac.
So, if he produces and makes another Pro Bowl, its likely Smith-Schuster will seek a new deal in that money range.
NFL training camps start next month for the 2021 campaign. After its pandemic season that restricted most fans, the league expects clubs to allow full attendance.