Smith-Schuster not fretting about contract status

PITTSBURGH — The days on JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s rookie contract are numbered, but that’s not keeping the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ top receiver on the sideline.

“At the end of the day, I’m just here to play ball,” Smith-Schuster said on a Zoom call Monday morning. “I’m not going to be the kind of guy that sits out and waits, regardless if there’s a contract or not.”

Smith-Schuster, 23, hasn’t received a new deal, and the Steelers only have a couple of weeks before the season starts to make progress securing their 2017 second-round pick for future seasons.

Smith-Schuster is coming off a disappointing season (42 catches for 552 yards and three touchdowns) in which he missed four games with a knee injury.

“I never had serious injuries where I’ve been out for multiple weeks for that long, so that was a new thing I had to learn as a young guy,” Smith-Schuster said. “And being the No. 1 receiver for a team, it was more so, being sure that if I wasn’t playing, being sure that everybody else was … doing their thing.”

Already tight on cap space, the Steelers have a handful of difficult contract decisions to make in the upcoming year — especially if the cap drops to account for lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Running back James Conner will also reach the end of his rookie deal, while Cam Heyward, Al Villanueva and Matt Feiler are set to become free agents. Plus, Bud Dupree is playing on a one-year franchise tag, and the Steelers will either need to tag him again or sign him to a long-term deal to keep him around.

Smith-Schuster, though, isn’t concerned about his contract status entering his fourth season in the league.

“As of right now, I’m not worried about that. It’s more so just playing ball. With everything going on right now, you never know what can happen. For me, I’d love to be a Steeler. But at the end of the day, I’m here to play ball and win games for the team and the organization.”

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