Analyst: Chiefs’ Division Rival Could Poach KC’s Top Free Agent

Getty Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

It’s been known for a while now that the Kansas City Chiefs would like to re-sign receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is coming off his best statistical campaign since 2018. Yet, the defending Super Bowl champions might have to get into a bidding war with other NFL teams due to JuJu being one of the top free agents at his position this offseason.

Take for example the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders, who Aaron Schatz of ESPN believes could try to coerce Smith-Schuster away from Kansas City with some of the $47 million of available cap space they have this offseason.

“Smith-Schuster is often thought of as a slot receiver too, but he lines up wide more often than you think,” Schatz wrote on March 8. “Last season, 42% of his targets came when he was lined up wide before the snap. Smith-Schuster’s ups and downs in Pittsburgh showed that he flourishes when he can be a No. 2 instead of a No. 1, and he would be a strong complement to Adams and Renfrow.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster a Staff Favorite in Kansas City

JuJu Smith-Schuster, 26, registered 78 catches for 933 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in 16 games during the 2022 regular season, per Pro Football Reference. In three playoff games, he caught 10 passes on 12 targets for 89 yards.

Prior to Kansas City’s Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked about Smith-Schuster and gushed over the young playmaker.

“He’s a great balancer for [Travis Kelce], so you like to have somebody with the common components that plays opposite Travis, and JuJu has that,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said on February 8, via Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride. “He knows how to play in space. He’s a big target. He’s tough to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. He has great hands. And he’s smart. He understands the game.”

After several up-and-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 capable of being one of the top receiving threats in the NFL.

“I love JuJu. Great personality,” Reid said on February 7, via Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire. “He’s surehanded. He’s great after the catch. He’s tough to bring down. And he’s smart. He picked everything up and kept the confidence of the quarterback.”

How Much Money Will JuJu Smith-Schuster Make

Due to his age, production last season, and a scarce free agent market at the receiver position, JuJu Smith-Schuster is in line for a sizable payday this offseason.

According to Spotrac’s calculated market value, Smith-Schuster could earn a four-year, $58 million contract during free agency this offseason. That would give him an average annual value (AAV) of $14.6 million. If he does get that type of contract, he will be the 25th-highest paid receiver in the NFL based on AAV.

As it stands, the Chiefs currently have $14.3 million in available cap space, per Over The Cap. The team also has several positions outside of receiver it could address during free agency, which includes offensive tackle (left and right), safety, defensive line, and running back.

Because of the Chiefs’ current roster layout and salary cap predicament, if Smith-Schuster wants to stay with Kansas City he will likely have to take a contract that does not meet the projected market value portrayed by Spotrac.

It’s possible JuJu could earn up to $14 million per year with the Chiefs, but he’d likely have to earn it through incentives with fewer guarantees involved compared to other offers he might receive.

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