Friday’s “First Call” looks at JuJu Smith-Schuster twisting in the free-agent breeze. More details about a likely Week 17 game. And a former Steelers fan (not-so) favorite gets a nice, new contract.
Also, we glance at a wild NHL game out west and the odds of some hardware for Marc-Andre Fleury.
Or is it more like tick-tock? Because the clock is ticking. And Steelers free agent JuJu Smith-Schuster still doesn’t have a place to play in 2021. No one has signed him, even though fellow wide receivers are slowly coming off the board.
And they are going to places where Smith-Schuster had been a potential target.
• Miami wrapped up former Houston Texan Will Fuller on a one-year deal.
• Even stone-handed ex-Steeler Donte Moncrief signed with the Houston Texans.
Yet Smith-Schuster, a former Pro Bowler, still doesn’t have a home.
Wow! Now, I’m sure he’ll sign a bigger contract than some of those receivers. He has to. But this is a guy who was projected by some to be on the verge of a $17 million deal just a few weeks ago.
Forget that. The low-end projections had him at $11 million. That’s probably not even happening at this point.
It makes you wonder who he turned down initially. How much he turned down. How much he demanded. Who refused him the second time around.
And why those teams refused. Too much self-promotion? Too much ego? Simply too much expected in the bank account by a receiver with a paltry 8.6 yards per catch?
Whatever the case, the king of brand promotion is about to realize that no matter how much he marketed his brand, he may have overvalued the return.
Unless the Steelers overbid to keep him now because they still consider this getting him on the cheap, but they’ll be bidding against themselves.
Hey, in that case, everybody wins. Right?
Seattle for 17
It sounds as if the 17-game NFL season will be happening for 2021. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that a vote on a 17-game season is slated for league meetings later this month.
ProFootballTalk says we should expect the idea to pass. The only question is, will the league go with three preseason games or two? PFT predicts three for at least 2021.
Every Steelers fan remembers Ryan Succop, right?
The guy who shanked that Week 17 field goal in 2013 as a Kansas City Chief. The 41-yarder that cost the Steelers a playoff berth at the expense of the San Diego Chargers.
Yeah. That jer…gentleman.
Not only is it bad enough that he just won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he also just got a shiny new contract with them — to the tune of $6.25 million guaranteed.
Returning reliable Ryan Succop was a priority.
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) March 17, 2021
Via ESPN, the Bucs haven’t had a kicker prior to Succop start in consecutive seasons since Connor Barth in 2010-12. Yup. Ol’ reliable. Ryan Succop.
All night long
The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche had a crucial battle for second place in the NHL’s West Division on Thursday night. And it was all Avs.
They ripped the Wild, 5-1. They also outshot them 55-20. The shot chart was so lopsided early that it was 20-1 in Colorado’s favor.
Landy, 1-0. Shots are 20-1 Avs over @mnwild
— Adrian Dater (@adater) March 19, 2021
Mikko Rantanen led the way for the Avalanche with two goals and two assists. They now have 38 points, good for second in the division and three behind the division-leading Vegas Marc-Andre Fleuries.
Uh, I mean Golden Knights.
Since we brought up Fleury, NHL.com is polling its writers for midseason awards. On Thursday, the site looked at the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s best goaltender. Right now, based on a 5-4-3-2-1 points basis for top-5 voting, Fleury is in second place behind Tampa Bay’s Andre Vasilevskiy.
— NHL (@NHL) March 18, 2021
Sorry. I’m not buying that. Granted, Vasilevskiy has been great. He’s 18-3-1 and second in the NHL in save percentage (.932), third in goals-against average (1.90) and tied for third in shutouts (three) among goalies to play at least 10 games.
But Fleury leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.87) and save percentage (.933) and is tied for first in shutouts with four.
Vasilevskiy won the award in 2019. Fleury has never won it. He finished fourth in 2019 and fifth in 2018 with the Golden Knights. He got up to seventh with the Penguins in 2012.
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