Steelers GM unsure about JuJu Smith-Schuster without Antonio Brown
The Pittsburgh Steelers intend to move on without Antonio Brown in the wake of a contentious split, but general manager Kevin Colbert admitted this week it remains to be seen how JuJu Smith-Schuster will adjust to playing without the dynamic wideout.
Brown’s exit is all but assured despite the Steelers’ insistence that the team won’t trade the superstar wide just for the sake of ridding themselves of the disgruntled wideout. Such posturing is simply an effort to boost Brown’s damaged trade value.
So, the question for the Steelers is how will Smith-Schuster react to being elevated to the team’s unquestioned top wideout. Colbert concedes the Steelers are not sure.
“We have a significant other receiver on this team in JuJu [Smith-Schuster] and there’s no getting around that. Together they’re great. What JuJu would be without an Antonio Brown, we don’t know,” Colbert told reporters Wednesday, via Steelers Depot. “We won’t know until we move forward, just like we didn’t know what Antonio would be when he was just a backup special teams practice guy. So yes, of course there are things that maybe he wants to do better than or more than and he thinks he can do it maybe in a different environment. Only time will tell if it’s the right move.”
The 22-year-old Smith-Schuster put up an outstanding campaign in 2018, catching 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns in his second NFL season.
There’s no doubt Brown’s presence provided Smith-Schuster with some cover. Defenses undoubtedly loaded up on Brown in an effort to contain him, leaving Smith-Schuster with much more favorable match-ups in the Steelers’ passing game.
That said, Smith-Schuster has proven himself to be a dynamic and dangerous wideout. The onus will be on the Steelers to make sure his development continues in the post-Antonio Brown era.