JuJu’s contract with the Patriots is the third-largest contract given to a receiver during free agency thus far in terms of overall value, which one NFL executive believes is an overpay for JuJu.
“That Juju Smith-Schuster deal was a surprise. Big contract for an average player,” an AFC personnel executive told Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo on March 22.
Lombardo also expressed some pessimism when evaluating JuJu’s situation in New England.
“Whether Smith-Schuster is the answer to the Patriots’ wide receiver inconsistency remains to be seen, but he has only surpassed 1,000 yards once in his career, and he’ll likely be asked to sit atop the depth chart for the first time in his career,” he wrote.
JuJu Had Bounce Back Season With Chiefs
JuJu Smith-Schuster, 26, registered 78 catches for 933 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in 16 games during the 2022 regular season, per Pro Football Reference. In three playoff games, he caught 10 passes on 12 targets for 89 yards.
After several down years with the Pittsburgh Steelers following his breakout campaign in 2018, Smith-Schuster took to free agency in 2022 and signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Chiefs. Since then, JuJu has proved that he is still one of the top receiving threats in the NFL.
“He’s a great balancer for [Travis Kelce], so you like to have somebody with the common components that plays opposite Travis, and JuJu has that,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said prior to Super Bowl LVII, via Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride. “He knows how to play in space. He’s a big target. He’s tough to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. He has great hands. And he’s smart. He understands the game.”
According to NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, Kansas City “wasn’t willing to go to the financial lengths the Patriots were on Smith-Schuster,” which is why JuJu joined New England despite mutual interest between him and the Chiefs to re-up.
With JuJu out of the picture, Kansas City’s receiver room currently consists of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, John Ross, Cornell Powell, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Justyn Ross, Jerrion Ealy, and Ty Fryfogle.
Twitter Reacts to JuJu Leaving Chiefs
Twitter users reacted to JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving the Chiefs after one season and a Super Bowl victory.
“Thanks for everything JuJu. Bottom line is, we don’t win that SB without you,” one Twitter user wrote. “You’ll always have a place in Chiefs Kingdom.”
“Good luck, thank you Juju for everything you done in KC,” another user wrote. “I wish you nothing but much success moving on.”
“Why does it seem that the Chiefs are losing more than they’re gaining during the off season? The point to which the team’s management think they can rely on Mahomes to make up for deficiencies on both offense AND defense is way past critical mass,” another user wrote.
“Hope you enjoy playing for losers,” another user wrote. “More money does not always equate to satisfaction. You think Tyreek was happy sittin’ home last year?”