JuJu Smith-Schuster’s thoroughly underwhelming debut season with the Patriots officially is over.

New England on Saturday placed Smith-Schuster on injured reserve with an ankle injury, ruling the veteran wide receiver out for its final two games of the 2023 campaign.

Smith-Schuster was one of the Patriots’ marquee offseason additions, signing a three-year, $25.5 million contract after winning a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. But the 27-year-old’s first season in Foxboro, Mass., was an out-and-out flop.

In 11 games for New England, Smith-Schuster totaled just 29 catches on 47 targets for 260 yards and one touchdown. The explosiveness and run-after-catch ability that made him a standout with Kansas City and Pittsburgh were almost entirely absent.

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At the time of his move to IR, Smith-Schuster was tied for 129th in the NFL in receptions, 147th in receiving yards and tied for 146th in receiving touchdowns. Among 84 wideouts with at least 45 targets, he ranked 80th in both yards per catch and yards per target.

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Jakobi Meyers, whom New England let walk in free agency to sign Smith-Schuster, has 62 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Smith-Schuster delivered by far his best game in a Patriots uniform in Week 14, catching four passes for 90 yards in a Thursday night win over the Steelers. But that proved to be his final appearance of the season. He missed the next two games, then landed on IR ahead of Sunday’s road matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

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Cutting ties with Smith-Schuster this offseason would be costly. Releasing him before June 1 would carry a $12.3 million dead-money charge and give the Patriots no salary cap relief. If he’s designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Patriots would take on $9.6 million in dead money in 2024 and $2.6 million 2025 while saving $1 million against next season’s salary cap.

New England could look to find a taker for a Jonnu Smith-esque trade, in which it essentially would give Smith-Schuster away for free in exchange for another team taking on the receiver’s contract. Trading Smith-Schuster before June 1 would create $5.4 million in cap space while leaving behind $5.3 million in dead money. After June 1, it would give $8 million in 2024 cap savings with $2.7 million in dead money in 2024 and ’25.

To fill Smith-Schuster’s spot on the 53-man roster, New England promoted safety Joshuah Bledsoe from the practice squad.

The Patriots also ruled out rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte (illness) and starting safety Jabrill Peppers (hamstring) for their Week 17 matchup in Buffalo. They elevated tight end Matt Sokol and offensive tackle Andrew Stueber from the practice squad.

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Featured image via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images