JuJu Smith-Schuster free agency: Arizona Cardinals perfect fit for Pittsburgh Steelers WR
ESPN recently published a list of "perfect free agent matches for all 32 NFL teams" and listed a wide receiver as the perfect fit for the Arizona Cardinals.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The story, written by Pro Football Focus' Seth Galina, speculated that Smith-Schuster "might do wonders" for the Cardinals and the wide receiver.
Galina wrote: “The Cardinals need someone who can work the middle of the field to take some heat off No. 1 wideout DeAndre Hopkins. And that’s what JuJu’s game is: the underneath middle of the field."
Smith-Schuster is a slot receiver, however, and the Cardinals need more of a true No. 2 wide receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins.
Still, it could make for an interesting fit and provide quarterback Kyler Murray with another weapon on offense.
Smith-Schuster, 24, had 97 catches for 831 yards and nine touchdowns last season and is set to become a free agent this month.
Galina continued: "His game fell off a bit in 2020, and it remains to be seen whether he can be a true No. 1 receiver, but the beauty is that he won’t have to be the top guy in Arizona. Smith-Schuster posted an 81.8 PFF grade as Antonio Brown’s understudy in Pittsburgh in 2018, but that number fell to 63.1 in 2019 and 70.0 in 2020. Becoming a secondary option again might do wonders for both JuJu and the Cardinals in the make-or-break year for the Kliff Kingsbury era."
The ESPN story isn't the only one to link Smith-Schuster to Arizona.
Steelersdepot.com wrote that Smith-Schuster signing with the Cardinals could certainly be a possibility.
Dave Bryan wrote: "While Smith-Schuster, who is expected to have a free agent market price of around $17 million per year if he remains unsigned these next two weeks, certainly would like to stay with the Steelers this offseason, him ultimately signing with a team out west and thus closer to his home state of California would certainly make a lot of sense. Could you imagine Smith-Schuster playing opposite wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona? What a duo those two would be. Will the Cardinals be able to afford Smith-Schuster in free agency after signing defensive end J.J. Watt earlier this week? I think it’s certainly possible from a salary cap perspective."
Last month, Fansided's Jim Koch wrote about how Smith-Schuster could tempt the Cardinals.
He wrote: "Pairing Smith-Schuster with a five-time Pro Bowler like Hopkins would give quarterback Kyler Murray two top-quality wide receivers to work with. The great Larry Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Famer, is no longer among the league’s best and is mulling retirement. Younger targets like Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson have yet to perform at a consistent level. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has a lot on his plate this offseason. Acquiring a reliable receiver is just one of a laundry list of tasks. Smith-Schuster could very well be the answer for the pass-catcher dilemma."
NFL rumors tweeted last month that the Cardinals were "expected to make a push" for Smith-Schuster.
The Arizona Republic's Bob McManaman listed Smith-Schuster among many potential wide receiver targets for the Cardinals in free agency.
He wrote: "Even if (Larry) Fitzgerald comes back and (Christian) Kirk has a contract year for the ages, they still need a new No.2 wide receiver to pair with Hopkins and this year’s free-agent market is chock full of them. Potential targets include Allen Robinson (Bears), Chris Godwin (Buccaneers), Kenny Golladay (Lions), Corey Davis (Titans), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers), Will Fuller (Texans), Curtis Samuel (Panthers), and Marvin Jones Jr. (Lions)."
Fansided's Aarron Van Buren had a different view from some others on Smith-Schuster's potential fit in Arizona.
He wrote that the wide receiver would be "a disaster with the Cardinals."
He wrote: "Adding Juju Smith-Schuster would destroy this team from the inside out, just like he did in Pittsburgh. If Keim wants to keep this positive growth (albeit slow) going, then he should steer clear of Smith-Schuster and draft a young wide receiver instead. I’ll take whoever that is and Christian Kirk any day of the week instead of JJS. On the other hand, Sammy Watkins, Curtis Samuel maybe even T.Y. Hilton are better options in free agency. This team cannot afford to miss the postseason in 2021, and if that does happen, massive change will take place within the organization and who knows what happens after that."
Interestingly, Smith-Schuster, like Hopkins, tried to recruit J.J. Watt to Pittsburgh before the defensive end ended up signing with the Cardinals.
Hopkins, a former teammate of Watt's, posted a photo of Watt and himself in Cardinals uniforms last month with the caption: "Let's finish what we started."
Smith-Schuster responded to Hopkins' post with the message: "Come play with your brothers."
Watt's brothers Derek and T.J. are currently on Smith-Schuster's team, the Steelers.
Could Smith-Schuster now end up joining J.J. Watt and Hopkins in Arizona?