JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the New England Patriots as a free agent in March, and now we have a good understanding of why he picked them.
Smith-Schuster signed a 3-year, $25.5M deal that can be worth as much as $33M. The Kansas City Chiefs tried to re-sign him, but were unable to retain him. Though he had success with the Chiefs catching 78 passes for 933 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, he chose to leave.
The Chiefs may not have been able to match New England’s offer, but the Patriots had something else that attracted Smith-Schuster.
JuJu spoke with the media on Tuesday and said that he wanted to play for Bill Belichick.
After Smith-Schuster had a big game for the Steelers against the Patriots as a rookie in 2017, Belichick decided to double-team JuJu in two subsequent meetings against him thereafter.
Smith-Schuster said that left a big impression on him because it showed how much Belichick respected the receiver’s ability.
“One thing I’ve learned playing against Bill is that if he ever double-teams you, you’re a key player in his eyes,” Smith-Schuster said Tuesday. “So back then when he was doing that, I looked at it like, ‘OK, he respects my game, and he respects me.’ Being able to circle back around in Year 7 to be here, it shows that he still has respect.”
Smith-Schuster took a one-year deal to sign with the Chiefs last season in hopes of rebuilding his value. His strong season with Kansas City did just that, making him an appealing replacement to the Patriots for Jakobi Meyers.
Smith-Schuster is the kind of quality addition New England needed to make as they attempt to turn around their offense in 2023.