Without mentioning the financial aspect of his decision, JuJu explained during his first press conference as a member of the Patriots why he opted to leave Kansas City after one season to join New England.
“Honestly, Bill (Belichick), man,” Smith-Schuster told Chris Mason of MassLive. “Being at a place where he’s a great head coach, and as far as everything else goes, I just feel like I fit here.”
Based on the sporadic play of the Patriots’ offense last season, it’ll be hard for JuJu to replicate the type of success he had with the Chiefs in New England. But that didn’t deter him from joining a team that is led by one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Rebounded During 2022 Season
JuJu Smith-Schuster, 26, was the most productive receiver in Kansas City (excluding tight end Travis Kelce) during the 2022 regular season, registering 78 catches for 933 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in 16 games played according to Pro Football Reference. In three playoff games, he caught 10 passes on 12 targets for 89 yards.
After several down years with the Pittsburgh Steelers following his breakout campaign in 2018, Smith-Schuster took to free agency in 2022 and signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Chiefs. Since then, JuJu has proved that he is still one of the top receiving threats in the NFL. That helped him earn the third-largest contract among the free agent receivers this offseason based on average annual value according to Spotrac.
With Smith-Schuster officially gone, the Chiefs have four receivers on the roster that played meaningful snaps in 2022 and are signed through at least 2023: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Justin Watson.
The defending Super Bowl champions also have Richie James, Justyn Ross, John Ross, Cornell Powell, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Jerrion Ealy, and Ty Fryfogle as players that will work with the team during the offseason and try to remain in town through the summer. Kansas City also drafted Rashee Rice in the second round of April’s draft and signed undrafted rookies Sean Coyne, Te’Vailance Hunt, James Letcher, Zane Pope, Nikko Remigio, and Ty Scott.
Chiefs 2023 Free Agency Tracker
Here is a list of the players the Chiefs have signed during free agency thus far, along with their contracts, according to Over The Cap:
- OT Jawaan Taylor (4 years, $80 million)
- DE Charles Omenihu (2 years, $20 million)
- S Mike Edwards (1 year, $3 million)
- LB Drue Tranquill (1 year, $5 million)
- DT Tershawn Wharton (1 year, $2 million)
- OL Nick Allegretti (1 year, $2.5 million)
- OL Prince Tea Wanogho (tendered)
- TE Jody Fortson (tendered)
- QB Shane Buechele (tendered)
- DT Derrick Nnadi (1 year, $1.2 million)
- TE Blake Bell (1 year, $1.1 million)
- DT Byron Cowart (1 year, $1.08 million)
- DT Phil Hoskins (1 year, $940,000)
- S Deon Bush (1 year, $1.3 million)
- WR Richie James (1 year, $1.2 million)
- WR Justin Watson (2 years, $3.5 million)
- QB Blaine Gabbert (1-year, $1.1 million)
- RB Jerick McKinnon
Here are the players that remain free agents:
- DE Frank Clark
- DE Carlos Dunlap
- DT Brandon Williams
- TE Jordan Franks (retired)
- LB Darius Harris