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JuJu Smith-Schuster Could Be on His Way Out of New England



JuJu Smith-Schuster
New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster after a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 7, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Things didn’t go smooth for JuJu Smith-Schuster in New England last season, recording only 29 receptions for 260 yards (9.0 average) and one touchdown in 11 games. It was a far cry from what he produced in his one season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022 and the five seasons he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Smith-Schuster had his best game of the year in the Patriots’ Week 14 win over the Steelers, catching four passes for 90 yards (22.5 average). His quarterback was Mac Jones for most of the year also, so that certainly could have played a part in his poor numbers.

However, with Bill Belichick no longer in New England, Patriots reporter Greg Bedard thinks new head coach Jerod Mayo might want to part ways with Smith-Schuster, as he’s not an ideal fit.

“I don’t really see a fit for JuJu here. I think Mayo talked about the competition in the room, and definitely sort of a Belichick acquisition,” Bedard said on his podcast. “Veteran guy that you know, you’ve seen, he’s played games, stuff like that. This is just a different regime. JuJu Smith-Schuster, to me, is not a fit here anymore, and I would be surprised if he’s here all that much longer.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster

New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 7, 2023. — Ed Thompson/ Steelers Now

The big issue with Smith-Schuster is his knee. It very well could be shot. During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston last August, Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer cast doubt on the long-term viability of Schuster and specifically his knee.

“The underrated story here: JuJu Smith Schuster’s knee is a mess, and that thing could explode at any point,” Breer said. “So, you almost have to keep an extra receiver because of that.”

Smith-Schuster said the report was false and claimed that Breer was just “trying to find a story.”

“I don’t think my knee is a ticking time bomb,” he told Mass Live’s Karen Guregian. “If anything, it’s something that’s getting stronger every day.”

Smith-Schuster is only 27, but he looked like a completely different player last season. He didn’t have the same explosiveness. It could have been the offense he was in, however, but the knee issue is something that should be monitored. If the Patriots cut him, that would be pretty alarming and a red flag to the rest of the league about his health status. Smith-Schuster has a $10.2 million cap hit this season and the Patriots would have $12.2 million in dead money if they cut him, according to Over The Cap.