During his lone season with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, JuJu Smith-Schuster wore No. 9, and now that he's in New England, he'd also like to wear that number, but that won't be happening because there are two big issues standing in his way.
The first problem is that someone is already wearing the number in New England, and that someone is Matt Judon. Of course, Judon has only been wearing it for two seasons -- he didn't wear it during his five seasons in Baltimore -- so he might be open to making a change. However, even if Judon was willing to give up the number, Smith-Schuster probably still wouldn't take it, and that's because of how expensive it would be for him to wear it.
During a recent interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Smith-Schuster revealed just how much it would cost him if he wanted to get No. 9 from Judon.
"When you're on the same team and you have the same number and if you change it, you have to pay the fee for the rest of that jersey," Smith-Schuster said. "And then whatever new number you get, you've got to pay another inventory for that and that's a whole process. He's probably going to have to ask for like $100K, which I'm definitely not going to do."
Under NFL rules, if a player decides to switch their number, they have to buy the unsold inventory of any jersey that's already been produced with that number, which means Smith-Schuster would have to cut a check to buy out the rest of Judon's No. 9 jerseys (That's where his $100,000 estimate comes from). On top of that, he'd also apparently need to buy Judon a Lamborghini.
He can have it for the price of a lambo I got the 100k https://t.co/pFVU8iaqHJ— Matthew Judon (@man_dammn) March 23, 2023
At that price, Smith-Schuster definitely isn't a buyer.
"I probably wouldn't go over, probably, $30K," Smith-Schuster said.
JuJu just signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Patriots that includes $16 million in guaranteed money, so he could definitely afford to pay more, but he's decided to be smart with his money.
As things currently stand, Smith-Schuster still hasn't been assigned a number. However, the number he wore in Pittsburgh for five seasons (19) is available in New England, so it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up with that.
"I might have to go back to 19," Smith-Schuster said.
No matter what number he chooses, it sounds like Smith-Schuster is just happy to be in New England. The 26-year-old says that one of the things that made the Patriots appealing was the chance to play for Bill Belichick.
"To be honest, it was [Bill] Belichick, man. Just the want and the need," Smith-Schuster said. "And, you know, the position that I can fill there really, really caught my attention. And I felt that like that feeling wanted in a place. He's a head coach I have a lot of respect for. And I just think that that goes a long way."
Smith-Schuster is coming off a 2022 season where he caught 78 passes for 933 yards while playing for the pass-happy Chiefs. If he can get anywhere near those numbers in New England in 2023, then the Patriots will almost certainly be thrilled. The Patriots didn't have a single receiver even catch 70 passes last season.