Devin McCourty on Wednesday said the New England Patriots didn’t have a replacement for Jakobi Meyers.
Well, now they do.
One day after losing Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, the Patriots agreed to terms with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a three-year, $33 million contract, according to multiple reports.
NFL Media’s Taylor Bisciotti was the first to report the impending signing, which can be finalized at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
The deal is identical in years and total value to the contract Meyers received from Las Vegas. It’s unclear how Smith-Schuster’s is structured in terms of guarantees.
Smith-Schuster, a Pro Bowler with Pittsburgh in 2018, is coming off a resurgent season in Kansas City, catching 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. He missed most of the 2021 season with an injury, appearing in just five games in his final year with the Steelers.
A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster still is a relatively young player, turning 27 this November. He’s similar in size to Meyers (6-foot-1, 215 pounds compared to the latter’s 6-2, 220) and split his time between slot and wide alignments this season.
Smith-Schuster also brings an ability to generate yards after the catch. His YAC over expected ranked fifth among NFL receivers in 2022, per NFL Next Gen Stats, trailing only Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown, Ja’Marr Chase and Deebo Samuel. The Patriots’ wideouts as a unit ranked 27th in the league.
Time will tell if Smith-Schuster is able to replicate that in an offense that isn’t led by Patrick Mahomes.
Smith-Schuster confirmed the agreement on Twitter, writing that he is “excited for (his) next chapter in New England.”
Meyers and Smith-Schuster were widely viewed as the top two receivers in this year’s lean free agent class.
The former’s departure surprised some former teammates, with McCourty, who retired last week, calling it “shocking” during an interview with WEEI. Smith-Schuster now projects as New England’s top option in the slot — with the versatility to play multiple receiver spots — as he joins a position group that also features DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Lynn Bowden and Tre Nixon.
More wideout moves could be forthcoming for the Patriots, who have been linked to free agent Odell Beckham Jr. and trade candidates DeAndre Hopkins and Jerry Jeudy.