JuJu hasn’t been efficient as a number one option
There’s no denying that poor quarterback play and injuries factored into JuJu’s poor efficiency in 2019. However, it’s important to consider that James Washington and Diontae Johnson were more efficient players dealing with the same lousy quarterbacks last year.
Even with his eye-popping production in 2018, Smith-Schuster was far from the most efficient player with his targets, as he was 91st in the league in separation per target, 38th in the league in catch rate, and 4th in the league in drops (9), according to Playerprofiler.com.
Last year, JuJu was even worse in many of these departments – ranking 61st in yards per target, 69th in yards per pass route, 74th in catch rate, 68th in separation per target, 49th in dominator rating, and 82nd in quarterback rating when targeted.
Analytics on their own isn’t a good way to judge receivers in the NFL, but these numbers hardly scream for someone who should be paid top dollar at the position.
If the Steelers had a lot of money to spare, I wouldn’t mind overpaying a bit for JuJu in a contract extension. However, Pittsburgh is in a bad way financially, and Smith-Schuster is about to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the league – whether he deserves it or not.