Help is on the way for the Patriots’ receiving corps.
NFL Media’s Taylor Bisciotti tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the Patriots were expected to sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, plucking him away from the Kansas City Chiefs. Ian Rapoport added the pass-catcher would sign a three-year deal worth $33 million.
The move comes a day after New England lost Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders on a similar contract in free agency – something the former Patriots receiver reacted to when he learned the contents of the deal, tweeting “Cold world lol.”
Those questions have, to an extent, been answered in the short term.
Smith-Schuster put together one of his best statistical seasons with the Super Bowl-champion Chiefs in 2022, catching 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns as Patrick Mahomes’ top receiver aside from Travis Kelce. Prior to joining the Chiefs, he played five seasons in Pittsburgh, which drafted him in 2017, topping 1,000 yards once in that span.
With him in the fold, the Patriots now have six receivers under contract for 2023: Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Tre Nixon and Lynn Bowden Jr.
That’s still not a great receiver room all things considered, and the Patriots almost certainly need to add at the position in the draft. But on paper, it assuages the loss of Meyers and gives the team another veteran target for Mac Jones.
The seventh-year receiver is also still just 26 years old and could have another strong season if he’s not counted on to be the sole outside threat on offense.
This move all but takes New England out of the running for a wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins or Jerry Jeudy on the trade market and (seemingly) shuts the door on any talk of a first-round wide receiver. Though those moves probably would’ve provided better upside than signing Smith-Schuster, it’s possible he might be a better value.
But Meyers isn’t lying: the optics of Smith-Schuster signing for the same overall money probably means the Patriots straight-up didn’t want to keep him.
Cold world indeed.