The New England Patriots were willing to pay $11 million annually for a free agent wide receiver. Just not their own.
One day after letting Jakobi Meyers walk in free agency, the Patriots agreed to terms Wednesday with JuJu Smith-Schuster, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star who is coming off a bounce-back season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The contract Meyers signed with the Las Vegas Raiders was a three-year, $33 million deal. The one Smith-Schuster got from New England? Three years, $33 million.
Minutes after Smith-Schuster’s agreement was reported, Meyers offered his reaction on social media.
“Cold world lol,” the wideout tweeted.
Meyers was the Patriots’ leading receiver for the past three seasons and a respected figure in their locker room. Newly retired safety Devin McCourty said Wednesday that he was “shocked” by Meyers’ departure, saying he thought the Patriots would have matched Vegas’ contract offer and that Meyers wanted to stay.
Now, New England is moving on with Smith-Schuster, who’s been less reliable than Meyers but offers more upside.
A second-round pick in 2017, the 26-year-old racked up 169 catches for 2,343 yards and 14 touchdowns over his first two seasons while playing alongside Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t matched that production since, but he was a solid player in his lone season with the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, posting a 78-933-3 line as Patrick Mahomes’ second option behind Travis Kelce.
Meyers set career highs with 83 receptions for 866 yards in 2021, then caught 67 for 804 and a personal-best six touchdowns this past season while missing three games with injuries.