The Patriots have been sniffing around big-name wide receivers, reportedly calling about potential trades for veterans like DeAndre Hopkins and Jerry Jeudy. On Wednesday, hours before the official start of 2023 free agency, they finally landed one, agreeing to terms with former Chiefs wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The receiver has since announced the move on social media, teasing a new chapter in New England.
Excited for my next chapter in New England! I will give this organization everything I have, thank you for believing in me! 🙏🏾🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/EwOxy7L7yz— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) March 15, 2023
Smith-Schuster had been in talks with Kansas City about a return to the Chiefs, but the former Pro Bowler opted instead for New England. He'll get a three-year, $25.5 million deal to become Mac Jones' new No. 1 receiver, according to ESPN, and can earn up to $33M in total thanks to incentives. The peak $11M-per-year average is equal to what fellow free agent wideouts Jakobi Meyers and Allen Lazard got with the Raiders and Jets, respectively.
Meyers took an apparent swipe at the Patriots with a tweet about Smith-Schuster's deal, perhaps lamenting that New England chose Smith-Schuster over him:
Cold world lol https://t.co/YtYqjrymUw— Jakobi Meyers (@jkbmyrs5) March 15, 2023
Smith-Schuster is fresh off a productive 2022 season in which he caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns as Patrick Mahomes' top traditional wide receiver. Tight end Travis Kelce remained the Chiefs' No. 1 pass catcher, but Smith-Schuster was active down the stretch as K.C. made its latest title run, catching seven passes in a Super Bowl LVII victory. Prior to that, he spent five seasons with the Steelers, peaking opposite Antonio Brown with a 1,400-yard breakout in 2018.
New England could still be in the market for additional receiver help after losing Meyers in free agency. Veteran Nelson Agholor, who started 20 games for the Patriots the last two seasons, is currently unsigned.