The door isn't entirely closed on the potential of JuJu Smith-Schuster returning to Pittsburgh, but you get the feeling that he sees the writing on the wall.
After four seasons with the Steelers, Smith-Schuster will become a free agent when the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. His representatives will be able to begin discussing a deal with teams at 4 p.m. ET on Monday, when the league's "legal-tampering" window opens.
Prior to the start of what may be the next chapter of his career, Smith-Schuster reflected on the time he's spent with the Steelers:
A second-round pick out of USC in 2017, Smith-Schuster has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards in four seasons with the Steelers. His strongest campaign came in 2018, when he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards while playing across from Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster was a Pro Bowler in 2018.
Certainly, the Steelers would probably prefer to retain Smith-Schuster, who is still just 24. That said, Over The Cap estimates that general manager Kevin Colbert has just north of $5 million to work with this offseason. With Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington in the fold - and the team's league-envied prowess at finding gems at the position - the Steelers might be best served using their limited resources elsewhere.