The Patriots have signed Juju Smith-Schuster to a three-year deal. How much will Juju help New England’s offense in 2023?
In the 2022 season, the Patriots lacked dynamic receivers. No receiver the Patriots had could consistently create separation. So far into the off-season, New England lost their best receiver in Jakobi Meyers to the Raiders. A day later, New England found his replacement in Juju. How much will Juju help the Patriots’ stagnant offense?
Juju Is A Huge Addition
Juju is a dynamic receiver New England needs. Juju has been a very consistent receiving option straight from his rookie year. Juju had 917 yards in his rookie year, 1,426 yards in his second year, 552 in his third year, 831 in his fourth, injured in his fifth year, and 933 yards just last season. Juju has been a close to 1,000-yard receiver each year he was able to stay healthy, and he has shown tremendous promise when he has been the focal point of an offense. At his best, he’s one of the top receivers in the entire NFL.
Early with the Steelers, Juju emerged as the top option, which was when he received 1,426 yards. Since then, the Steelers have moved on from Juju, Juju went to the Chiefs. Juju was the second option on the Chiefs behind Kelce and still finished with 933 yards. For reference, the leading receiver for New England last season was Jakobi Meyers, who finished with 804 yards. This is a very nice upgrade for New England.
Juju has more upside than Jakobi Meyers, so ultimately the Patriots did get an upgrade. New England signed Juju to a three-year deal worth $33,000,000. Despite this large signing, the Patriots still have a good amount of cap space left. Juju is also a very physical run blocker, which fits in well with the Patriots’ run-heavy scheme, while also being a decent route runner.
Most importantly, Juju is the best receiver Mac has had throughout his early career. He’s fast, runs great routes, can evade defenders with his agility, and has incredible hands that can catch in traffic and make electric plays. Along with the improvements in coaching, he can help Mac evolve in year three. Overall, this was a very good signing for New England and it has lots of upsides.
The Patriots Still Need Another Receiver
Despite Juju being a clear upgrade, and New England having solid depth at receiver. New England still needs to go and get another receiver. While Juju is a good receiver, he is not the elite one that every contender has. Juju has shown flashes of wide receiver one talent, but New England needs an established receiver who has been an elite threat for numerous years.
Deandre Hopkins should be the main focus for New England. Hopkins is likely to get dealt and has 11,298 career receiving yards and he’s still only 30. Getting Hopkins means New England will have a core of Hopkins, Juju, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton, which is a very good core to build around. The Patriots still need to make an aggressive push and acquire the Hall of Famer.
Getting an elite receiver should be the main priority for New England, and getting Juju is a good start. But if New England looks at other teams in the AFC, some teams have two elite receivers like the Dolphins with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Bengals with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, and the Chargers with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. New England can afford another receiver and they need to go and get one more receiver.
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