FOXBORO, Mass. – When the Patriots allowed Jakobi Meyers to walk away in free agency to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders, many wondered what New England’s answer would be at wide receiver for 2023.
Two days later, they signed former Pro Bowl wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a three-year, $33 million dollar contract.
“We have something special here. It’s going to show. It’s going to show this year,” said Smith-Schuster on the potential the Patriots have on offense heading into 2023. “[My time in New England] has been really great.”
Smith-Schuster caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns with the Chiefs last season and became a Super Bowl champion. After stints with Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes, he’ll now transition to Mac Jones as his signal caller. A third-year quarterback heading into a pivotal season:
“When I signed Mac was like, in the building already… He’s a hard-working guy. Very, very smart.” JuJu also said that the sky is the limit for the Patriots’ quarterback.
So how will he fit into Bill O’Brien’s system? Smith-Schuster says that he sees himself “as a guy that’s coming in, trying to find a role and fit in. I think everybody is a No. 1 receiver in this offense.” He added, “the playbook’s amazing, honestly. Bill [O’Brien] is great. He’s a great coach. He makes everyone feel welcome.”
With the way New England has approached the wide receiver room this offseason, many have wondered about their positional versatility and how they may gel on the field. Smith-Schuster isn’t worried. He mentioned that one of the things that stand out about the Patriots’ system is that everyone can line up in multiple spots and that it, “gives Mac opportunities to do whatever he wants.”
Finally, and likely most importantly, Smith-Schuster said that the reason he agreed to sign with New England in the first place was, “honestly Bill [Belichick], man. Being in a place where there’s a great head coach… I just feel like I fit here.”
His fit is still TBD as he also mentioned that he has yet to throw with quarterback Mac Jones. In his best year as a pro, Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and 7 TDs. While that ceiling may be unlikely five years later, he’ll look to get as close as possible to that production again. He should at least have the opportunity to do that in New England.