JuJu Smith-Schuster On Why He Signed With Patriots: ‘To Be Honest, It Was Belichick, Man’

Tomlin Belichick

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is now onto his third team in as many seasons after claiming a Super Bowl title with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022. Finally getting a bit larger bite of the apple, he signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract with the New England Patriots this offseason that includes $16 million guaranteed at signing—his signing bonus and his base salaries for the next two years. It also includes another $7.5 million in incentives.

But why did he sign with the Patriots and Bill Belichick, aside of course from the money? That was one of the first questions he was asked by Marc Bertrand and Scott Zolak on New England sports radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub.

To be honest, it was Belichick, man”, he said. “Just the want and the need, and the position that I can fill there really, really caught my attention. I felt like that was the most feeling wanted in a place where I’ve played against with a head coach I have a lot of respect for. I just think that that goes a long way”.

The Patriots under Belichick have never been a hot spot for wide receiver excellence, in spite of the presence of arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the sport for most of that time in Tom Brady.

Yet they haven’t had a 1000-yard season by a wide receiver there since 2017 when Brandin Cooks caught 65 passes for 1082 yards and seven touchdowns. Wes Welker and Randy Moss account for the majority of their great seasons in team history by receivers, with a sprinkling of Julian Edelman.

Jakobi Meyers, now in Las Vegas, was New England’s leading receiver a year ago with 804 yards on 67 catches and six touchdowns in 14 games. It was a career year after catching 83 passes for 866 passes and two scores a year earlier. Only DeVante Parker with 534 yards had more than 500 among their wide receivers.

So what can Smith-Schuster bring to the offense? He caught 78 passes last season working with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City (at a 77.2 percent catch rate) for 933 yards and three touchdowns. Those aren’t exactly the Pro Bowl numbers he seemed destined for after his first two seasons, but he proved that he can still make plays.

And frankly, a quarterback like Mac Jones would benefit even more than Mahomes from having a reliable slot weapon. At least in theory, he should be a pretty good fit in that offense. One just has to wonder how high the ceiling actually is for that offense.

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