When Patriots fans think “wide receiver,” we think Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, or Randy Moss. These are all names that bring fond memories to the hearts of Patriots fans everywhere. We don’t usually think Jakobi Meyers.
Except for now. Meyers led the team in receptions and receiving yards for the past three years. In 2022, he had 67 receptions for 804 yards, 86 for 866 yards in 2021, and 59 for 729 yards in 2020. However, Meyers signed with the Raiders this offseason, and the Patriots were left looking for a new #1 wide receiver. They weren’t looking for long.
Is JuJu Smith-Schuster a Better Fit For the Patriots?
Out With the Old
When Jakobi Meyers became a free agent at the end of this past season, we all thought the Patriots would find a way to keep their golden boy receiver. But, boy, were we wrong.
Meyers decided he wanted to pursue different options. People thought he could get at least $15 million a year on his next contract, as he’s one of the top WRs in free agency. Though they offered him less than this value ($33 million for three years), Meyers ultimately landed on the team with the newest, shiniest toys — The Las Vegas Raiders. (Side note — I had to course correct from typing “Oakland.” I will never get used to that.)
“It’s futuristic, honestly. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Meyers said Thursday in his introductory press conference in Las Vegas. “I’m happy I get to take advantage of it. The things they’ve walked around and showed me, the training staff, equipment staff, the weight room — I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m just really, really excited.”
In With the New
Ok. So, New England is down a star wide receiver. Who do we go after? Well, look no further than conference rival and recent Super Bowl Winners Kansas City. Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster hit free agency after just one year with the Chiefs. In an interesting turn of events, the Patriots offered Smith-Schuster the same deal that Las Vegas gave Meyers — three years and $33 million.
So, was New England trying to spite Meyers by offering Smith-Schuster the EXACT same deal? Perhaps. But with the loss of Meyers, the Patriots didn’t really have a solid WR left to throw the ball to. (Who’s gonna throw that ball, though?!) So, they went fishing with an offer and landed Smith-Schuster.
Let’s Compare, Shall We?
So, how do they stack up against each other? Meyers is 6’2″, 220lbs. Smith-Schuster is 6’1″, 215 lbs. Meyers has a career catch rate of 68.3% and a yards-per-catch average of 11.7. Smith-Schuster? 70.1% and 11.9. Historically, Smith-Schuster has outperformed Meyers in the three performance categories for a WR — catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns.
|Smith-Schuster 111 (’18)||Smith-Schuster 1,426 (’18)||Smith-Schuster 9 (’20)|
|Smith-Schuster 97 (’20)||Smith-Schuster 933 (’22)||Smith-Schuster 7 (’17)|
|Meyers 83 (’21)||Smith-Schuster 917 (’17)||Smith-Schuster 7 (’18)|
|Smith-Schuster 78 (’22)||Meyers 866 (’21)||Meyers 6 (’22)|
|Meyers 67 (’22)||Smith-Schuster 831 (’20)||Smith-Schuster 3 (’22 & ’19)|
Meyers had no touchdowns in 2019 and 2020, and Smith-Schuster had none in 2021 when a shoulder injury limited him to five games.
Fantasy Relevance of Juju Smith-Schuster with the Patriots
So, I think the Patriots will be in capable hands this season regarding who they have catching the ball. But does it matter who throws the ball? Probably.
Last season, Mac Jones threw the ball to Jakobi Meyers 96 times for 67 completions, a 69.8% completion percentage. Patrick Mahomes targeted Smith-Schuster 101 times in Kansas City for 78 completions, a 77.2% completion percentage.
However, since Smith-Schuster is only competing with Tyquan Thornton, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne at wide receiver, he should see plenty of targets. This is great for his standing on the team, but I still wouldn’t rank him in the top-15 WRs. Look towards Smith-Schuster as your WR2 or WR3 when drafting this season.
Last season, I wrote an article on Jakobi Meyers as part of our “A Look Inside” series. So I felt it only appropriate that I take on this situation. If you’re interested in reading how right — or wrong — I was, you can read that article here.