Five Thoughts on the Patriots’ Signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster
Some thoughts on the New England Patriots’ signing of free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster:
1) With the loss of Jakobi Meyers to the Raiders on Tuesday, the Patriots were in need of finding someone to do all the dirty work that Meyers did in the offense, while picking up the slack left behind by the former undrafted free agent receiver.
The departed free agent had been the club’s most productive player the last few years, and the Patriots seemed to have a pretty decent gap to fill.
Fortunately, it appears now they might have an answer.
Adding Smith-Schuster appears to give them that, with the former Chiefs wideout also being a little bigger and stronger by comparison. The biggest question is going to be whether or not he has the same penchant in finding open space as Meyers did, or if he can develop the same comfort level with Mac Jones.
It’s tough to lose someone like Meyers who had been so reliable, but Smith-Schuster’s addition at least fills a pretty big void that existed prior to his signing.
2) The Patriots reportedly signed Smith-Schuster to a 3-year, $33 million deal (average salary of $11 million per year), which was an identical total to the one Meyers signed in Las Vegas.
Given the initial total, it felt as though Meyers took the deal in Las Vegas and never came back to the Patriots with an opportunity to match it. Instead, his reaction on Twitter after Smith-Schuster’s signing sort of makes you believe that New England may have instead come in lower, and the news of the same deal appeared to sting a bit.
Cold world lol https://t.co/YtYqjrymUw
— Jakobi Meyers (@jkbmyrs5) March 15, 2023
That should lead most fans to believe that it was the Patriots, not Meyers, who apparently felt a need to go in a different direction and that they simply didn’t value Meyers the same way.
3) What’s going to also be interesting is whether or not Smith-Schuster can replace Meyers’s third down production. But looking closer at the totals, it appears as though the two really aren’t that far off.
Meyers had 22 receptions for 330 yards and two touchdowns on third down last season, moving the chains 18 times. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster caught 19 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns, moving the chains on 16 of those plays.
As a result, the two do seem pretty similar from that standpoint, which should be good news for Jones, who leaned on Meyers quite a bit last year in that situation.
4) Another area that Meyers was solid in was blocking in the ground game, which should be something Smith-Schuster should also be able to do.
If nothing else, he’s a little stronger than Meyers and certainly doesn’t shy away from contact, which is a good thing.
Many fans may remember the hit he put on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict several years ago, which dropped the linebacker and left him on his black on a running play and allowed teammate Le’Veon Bell to pick up a few more yards.
Needless to say, he’s clearly not afraid to mix things up when he needs to.
As we know, the Patriots rely quite a bit on their receivers to get it done in the ground game, so Smith-Schuster may even provide a bit of an upgrade there in that regard.
5) What is sort of interesting is the two players are exactly the same when it came to average yards per reception, which came in at 12.0 for both last season.
Some have said that Smith-Schuster has had a better average per reception, but the two have had similar totals the last few seasons.
In fact, their totals overall have been pretty similar the last few years.
Meyers had 67 receptions for 804 yards and 6 touchdowns last season despite missing two games. Smith-Schuster finished with 78 receptions for 933 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Smith-Schuster was injured in his final season in Pittsburgh in 2021, but finished the 2020 season with 97 receptions for 831 yards and 9 touchdowns. Meyers, who was limited by a struggling Cam Newton, finished with 59 catches for 729 yards.
Meyers averaged 12.36 yards per catch, while Smith-Schuster averaged 8.57.
But for their careers, Meyers sits at 11.74, while Smith-Schuster has averaged 11.94.
So the big question will be how he settles into the offense and whether or not he and Jones can build some chemistry.
Whether or not the Patriots make one more addition for a more dynamic player is also something everyone will be watching, as that would certainly make everyone in New England’s offense better.
For now, fans can at least rest easy knowing that the club has someone who has the potential to be as productive as the guy they lost on Tuesday.
Hopefully, he’ll end up putting up even bigger numbers moving forward as the Patriots try and force their way back into contention in the Conference.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: JuJu Smith-Schuster