As receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s fourth season approaches, some have wondered aloud whether the 2018 Steelers MVP won’t get a big-money second contract in Pittsburgh. That chatter possibly has fueled rumors that Smith-Schuster could be traded as his fourth NFL season approaches, to the 49ers.
With those rumors barely registering on the NFL rumor-mill radar screen, the Steelers mobilized, letting multiple reporters know that Smith-Schuster won’t be traded to the 49ers.
A second-round pick in 2017, Smith-Schuster is due to make $1.037 million this year, the final one of his rookie deal.
Smith-Schuster had a dramatic decline in production last year, dropping from 1,426 receiving yards to 552. Factors included quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffering a season-ending injury in Week Two, the absence of Antonio Brown to draw attention away from Smith-Schuster, and (frankly) Smith-Schuster’s struggles to become an all-around threat with the speed to stretch a defense.
Given the subpar third season and tenuous contract status, Smith-Schuster doesn’t seem to fall into the “untouchable” category when it comes to a potential trade. Regardless, they’re making it clear (without going on the record) that Smith-Schuster won’t be traded to the 49ers, who have two first-round picks but none in rounds two through four. Last year, the 49ers gave up a third- and fourth-round pick for receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who left via free agency for the Saints.
Smith-Schuster’s longest play of the 2019 season — a 76-yard touchdown catch — came during a Week Three meeting against the 49ers.