JuJu Smith-Schuster battled back from what appeared to be a season-ending shoulder injury last year to return in time for the postseason. The receiver's Pittsburgh Steelers were quickly dispatched, however, by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith-Schuster was back in K.C. on Sunday, nearly two months following that playoff loss, to be introduced as the newest member of the Chiefs; the WR signed a one-year deal worth up to $10.75 million this week.
The sixth-year wideout joked to reporters that he'll be happy to have the Arrowhead crowd behind him this time around.
"It's good to be on the other side, finally," Smith-Schuster said Sunday, per a team transcript. "I think for myself, I love Pittsburgh, the fanbase is amazing there, they took me in for about five years and obviously coming into this year, although playing my last game with Pittsburgh in Arrowhead and starting off my new season in Arrowhead, it's going to be unbelievable. I've heard the fanbase is amazing, so I can't wait to embrace them."
Kansas City, AFC West champions six years running and AFC Championship Game hosts for four consecutive seasons, doesn't have the historic pedigree of the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers, for whom JuJu played the first five years of his career. But no club has been more consistently successful over the past half-decade than the Chiefs, something Smith-Schuster knows all too well.
The receiver was thisclose to signing with the Chiefs last offseason -- Andy Reid recruited him directly via text -- but returned to the Steelers on a one-year, prove-it deal for less money. The shoulder injury derailed Smith-Schuster's final campaign in the Steel City, but he said Sunday he still thinks he made the right decision to go back to Pittsburgh.
"I have no regrets on my decision last year," Smith-Schuster said.
After playing with a soon-to-be-retired Ben Roethlisberger on his last legs in Pittsburgh in 2021, Smith-Schuster is excited to catch passes from Patrick Mahomes this season, even if fewer of those passes come his way as the all-world QB divvies up targets between him, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and others.
"It was a big part of the process," JuJu said of Mahomes' presence. "You go into free agency, and you find out who's going to be throwing you the ball next year. It came down to Pat and I'm excited. I'm happy with my decision."
Smith-Schuster added, "You come into a team where they've got guys who can stretch the field, guys that have been here doing it for quite some time now. For me, I made the decision to come here to win. I'm all about winning. I'm all about what I can do to help the team and produce. This year you'll see that. You'll see that obviously they have Tyreek, Travis and Mecole and all those guys, they'll still make their plays. And the plays that I do get, I'll want to make them, too.
"Like I said, I'm here to win."