Patriots Agree To Terms With JuJu Smith-Schuster
According to multiple reports, the New England Patriots have agreed to terms with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a three-year, $33 million deal. This acquisition strengthens the Pats’ receiving corps and gives third-year quarterback Mac Jones a reliable target to help replace Jakobi Meyers, who departed for Las Vegas yesterday to reunite with former coordinator Josh McDaniels.
But will this end up being a good move for the Pats? And is this the only move the Patriots make to their receiving corp? Let’s dive into Smith-Schuster’s addition and explore what he brings to the table for the Patriots.
JuJu Performance Overview
JuJu Smith-Schuster, a 26-year-old wide receiver, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2022, he signed an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs that ultimately led to him winning his first Lombardi Trophy. Over 16 regular-season games, the wideout notched up 78 catches for 933 yards and three touchdowns.
In addition, he contributed ten catches for 89 yards during the Chiefs’ championship run, which included 7 catches in the Super Bowl. So, in the end, the new deal with the Patriots will offer JuJu more security and guaranteed money than his deal with Kansas City last offseason.
Ideal Fit for the Patriots’ Scheme
One of Smith-Schuster’s strengths is his ability to dominate in the slot, offering a nice target for Jones in the short-to-intermediate passing game. His toughness and willingness to block downfield for teammates also fit the mold of the Patriots’ “Do Your Job” philosophy. New England’s West Coast-style offense will leverage Smith-Schuster’s skill set, making him a valuable weapon for the Pats next season.
Managing His Off-Field Persona
Smith-Schuster’s off-field presence, most notably his social media activity, has drawn some controversy in the past. With the Patriots franchise having a no-nonsense approach to their game, it will be intriguing to observe how well Smith-Schuster adapts himself and his outspokenness to the team’s attitude.
It will be a shift for the wideout to learn how to find the right balance between off-field activities, such as being on social media, and on-field concentration. Even if it doesn’t necessarily affect your play on the field, Belichick doesn’t like that kind of stuff being a distraction. It doesn’t take a lot to get into Belichick’s dog house, as we know.
Creating a Competitive Receiving Corps
The Patriots have an intriguing wide receiver group that includes DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, and Kendrick Bourne. Ultimately, more depth and talent will foster competition and encourage growth within the group, especially for a young receiver like Thornton. Having multiple options will also help alleviate pressure off of Jones and hopefully create a more dynamic, unpredictable passing game under Bill O’Brien.
The Need for a True No. 1 Wide Receiver
Even with the Smith-Schuster’s signing, I truly believe the Patriots still need to add a true number-one wide receiver to their lineup. Names like Jerry Jeudy, DeAndre Hopkins, and Odell Beckham Jr. have been floated as potential additions that would make the Patriots’ offense more explosive.
You could also see New England go after standout prospects such as Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Zay Flowers in the draft to help deepen the skill position group. As Jones enters the crucial third year of his rookie deal, giving him all the weapons he needs to succeed is more important than ever. They absolutely need to be more explosive next season.
Overall, JuJu helps fill a need on the Patriots, but I view him more as a replacement for the departed Jacobi Meyers. The fact is mediocrity will not get you anywhere when going up against a conference that features Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, and now Aaron Rodgers.
So while this is a nice start, more must be done to be a true contender in the ultra-competitive AFC East.