Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is costing JuJu Smith-Schuster a lot of money

JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Ben Roethlisberger has been awful throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster this year. Here’s why the Steelers former Pro Bowl receiver is losing future money.

If there’s one Pittsburgh Steelers player who could be more disappointed than Ben Roethlisberger with how the 2021 season has gone so far, it’s JuJu Smith-Schuster. I’m sure this is not the start to the year the former Pro Bowler had in mind.

If you recall, there was a time when retaining JuJu for the 2021 season seemed like a hope and a prayer. Because of the pandemic, Kevin Colbert and his crew had very little spending money to work with this past offseason, and like Bud Dupree, Smith-Schuster was almost certain to go.

Though the wide receiver market fell though, JuJu did have other offers for more money with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. Right now, he’s probably wishing he would have taken them up on those deals.

Why Steelers aging QB is costing JuJu lots of money

While we can’t put JuJu Smith-Schuster’s financial future entirely in Ben Roethlisberger’s hands, there’s no doubt the aging Steelers quarterback has cost JuJu a lot of money.

Instead of signing a long-term deal at a discount price this year, JuJu bet on himself — knowing that both the salary cap and the market for wide receivers would increase in the 2022 offseason. Sadly, it’s not looking like he’s going to earn a fraction of the payday we originally thought he could.

Following his remarkable 2018 season, Smith-Schuster was considered to be one of the best young receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill from there. JuJu was banged up for much of his 2020 season and production has really dipped over the past two years.

Looking to give the Steelers one more chance in 2021, the young receiver was hoping for much better results. Through the first four weeks of the season, JuJu has recorded just 15 catches for a mere 129 yards (32.2 yards per game) and has yet to record a single touchdown. What’s worse is that Roethlisberger has completed just 55.6 percent of passes when throwing to him this year for a dismal 52.9 passer rating, according to Pro Football Reference.

At this rate, JuJu is on the pace for just 548 yards on the year. Considering the NFL’s new 17-game schedule, there will be a plethora of free-agent wide receivers with better production hitting the market next year.

James Washington is in a similar boat. Though the former second-round pick seems to impress every time he’s on the field, he’s not going to get a fraction of enough production to warrant anything more than a small prove-it deal on the free-agent market next year.

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Steelers fans know that JuJu Smith-Schuster is a quality, reliable wide receiver, but his quarterback is killing his chances at earning a top-notch payday during the 2022 offseason. The young wide receiver has to be kicking himself right now for his decision to return to the Steelers.