Pittsburgh Steelers: JuJu Smith-Schuster Seems Poised to Leave
The Steelers have only given second contracts to two wide receivers in recent history (Hines Ward and Antonio Brown) and it doesn't appear JuJu Smith-Schuster will be the next. As ESPN’s Brooke Pryor wrote, "all signs point to a departure for the fan favorite."
The Steelers drafted Smith-Schuster, 24, in the second round in 2017. He quickly became a popular player with a big, fun personality outside the lines and physical demeanor inside them.
Smith-Schuster was one of the league's leading receivers in 2018 with 111 catches for 1,426 yards. He had a tough 2019 and logged 97 catches for 831 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
After the Steelers' playoff loss, Smith-Schuster said he "would love" to stay in Pittsburgh, but the math doesn't add up considering Pittsburgh is still in salary-cap trouble and has younger, cheaper replacements. Smith-Schuster seems to see the writing on the wall, reacting to a teammate's Instagram post about his contract with, "Wish I can get one."
Steelers.com's Bob Labriola wrote Sunday that Smith-Schuster is "unlikely to want to accept what the cap-strapped Steelers would be able to pay him on a new contract." The Steelers convinced Ben Roethlisberger to take a $5 million pay cut, but that may not work with everyone.
Pittsburgh has wide receivers Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington under contract. Claypool had a monster rookie season with 873 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and Johnson was Roethlisberger's most targeted wideout. Pryor wrote that Smith-Schuster's departure would "[leave] behind a room with less personality but plenty of talent."
Speaking of that personality, Smith-Schuster recently played tug-of-war with a lion and took the body shots challenge from professional boxing star Ryan Garcia.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tough Decision on Pass Rusher Carl Lawson Looms
The Ravens aren't the only team in the AFC North with major questions at pass rusher. Like Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in Baltimore, the Bengals have a young talent in Carl Lawson who could be one of the top pass rushers if he hits the open market.
The Bengals had a league-low 17 sacks last season and Lawson registered just 5.5, but advanced metrics on Lawson's pass rush put him near the top of the league at his position, ESPN’s Ben Baby wrote.
"Given the advanced metrics, Lawson seems to be a prime candidate for the Bengals to use the franchise tag, which is estimated to be around $17.8 million in 2021 by overthecap.com," Baby wrote.
"But any team willing to invest significant dollars on Lawson is banking on his ability to stay healthy. Last season was only the second time he played all 16 games. And teams will also be looking for Lawson to convert all of those pressures into sacks or turnovers."
The Bengals have several questions on defense heading into free agency. Veteran Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins could be moving on and starting cornerback William Jackson III and slot corner Mackensie Alexander have expiring contracts.
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield Believes He Saw a UFO
Baker Mayfield at least always keeps it interesting.
Last Wednesday night, Mayfield tweeted that he believes he saw a UFO with his wife over Lake Travis just outside of Austin, Texas.
Any chance Baker is an alien in disguise? Were they coming for him?
Fox Sports Radio's Colin Cowherd, who is a frequent critic of Mayfield, wasn't amused.
At least Tom Brady had some fun with it.