The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen this movie before. A somewhat diva-ish reciever gets a brutal concussion, then immediately starts behaving in bizarre ways. Now we are not saying that Ju Ju Smith Schuster and Antonio Brown are exactly the same situations. Clearly they both have very different personalities. What they do have in common is the constant need for attention. Almost all of Smith-Schuster’s unending social media barrage could be considered harmless at best, or juvenile at worst. However, his latest post of driving over one hundred miles an hour is at least concerning. Debating on the severity of driving at that speed doesn’t tell the whole story. It speaks to a lack of judgment, a good deal of recklessness, and an overwhelming need for attention. It is a clear warning sign the Steelers can not ignore.
Think this is an overreaction? Let’s go back to the 2017 post season. Antonio Brown broadcasts Mike Tomlin’s post game speech on Facebook live for the whole world to see. While Antonio Brown took his share of grief for this action, no one at the time was overly concerned that this may have been a warning sign of things to come. A few months later, various stories began to surface about AB threatening reporters via social media. Next came the furniture throwing incident, and still no one seemed to be worried that Brown maybe going off the rails. Then came the skipped practices, arguments with Ben Roethlisberger, and the next thing we knew Antonio Brown had a multi-colored mustache and was demanding to be traded. The point here is all of this started with a seemingly benign, juvenile act that most played off as a one time thing.
Kevin Colbert has himself quite the dilemma this off-season. Ju Ju Smith Schuster will be up for a contract extension going into the last year of his rookie deal in 2020. This doesn’t give the Steelers brass much time to hash out what the implications are to this latest off the field incident. The going rate for a top notch receiver will cost you anywhere from $14-$20 million per season. That’s a big chunk of change to give an at best immature player. The Steelers might be better off playing out the 2020 season with Smith-Schuster, and using the franchise tag as a safety net. While its likely that tag will be around $18-$19 million, it would protect the Steelers from getting locked into a long term deal they can’t get out of.
Up until this point, there wasn’t a person out there who didn’t love Ju Ju Smith-Schuster. His youthful exuberance was a breath of fresh air on a team filled with veterans who were easy not to like. Unfortunately however, we have what might be the first warning sign with this speeding incident. No one could fault the Steelers if they were at least a little nervous about their star receiver. Maybe its nothing. Maybe it’s just a small blip on an otherwise clear radar. Hopefully that’s true, but we all thought the same thing in 2018. Look how that turned out.