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JuJu Smith-Schuster found free agency more nerve wracking than the draft

JuJu Smith-Schuster joins Mike Florio to shed light on how close he was to leaving Pittsburgh for Baltimore or Kansas City and why his free agency was 'more nerve-wracking' than his draft day.

In 2017, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had to wait through more than 60 picks before he was drafted. He recently said that the wait to get drafted wasn’t as stressful as his first foray into free agency.

“I would probably say free agency was more nerve wracking than draft day,” Smith-Schuster told PFT PM. “Everything this year did not play out to how I wanted it to be when I look back five, four years. It’s a lot different. It’s betting on myself, going with the team I’ve been with before, and going out trying to get paid again.”

Smith-Schuster ultimately took less to stay with the Steelers. Since he opted to do a one-year deal with the ability to get back to the market next year, he decided it made sense to remain with the only team for which he has played.

“Going back to where I know my quarterback, I know my receivers coach, I know my offense. . . . They know me, they know my body. Just betting on myself is something that I’ve looked at, and I don’t regret it at all.”

Smith-Schuster was victimized by the fact that the salary cap ended up roughly $25 million lower this year than it would have been. And he seriously considered signing with the Chiefs or the Ravens, explaining that the decision came down to the wire.

He said he’d like to play another four years with the Steelers after this one. If the salary cap grows like it should in 2022, however, Smith-Schuster may find more lucrative offers elsewhere.