4 Patriots who didn't live up to their contracts in 2023

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JuJu Smith-Schuster

Cap hit: $4,674,509
2024 cap hit: $10,280,392

Based on the drama that encapsulated his arrival to the team, it looks as though JuJu Smith-Schuster's first year with the Patriots was doomed from the start.

Belichick's decision to pay him over Jakobi Meyers remained a talking point all season, especially once it became clear that he was either not a great fit on the offense or was more injured than initially reported. Or maybe even a combination of both.

Fast-forward to this offseason, and we now know the truth: Smith-Schuster's knee was only at 60%, much lower than the 100% he was hellbent on convincing everyone of. That likely explains why he performed so poorly all season long, recording just 29 receptions for 260 yards and a touchdown, most of which came after Kendrick Bourne left with a season-ending injury in Week 8.

Although in the big scheme of things, his contract wasn't all that expensive, Smith-Schuster's lackluster performance paid a bigger price for the offense than just the dollar amount. Quarterback play was atrocious, but Jakobi Meyers had been consistently productive no matter who was under center.

He went on to have the best season of his career with the Raiders, making Belichick look like a fool for letting him go and signing Smith-Schuster.

Hopefully, he's correct with his assessment regarding his knee this year, as he will need to have a great summer and season (if he makes the team) to be worth the massive increase in his salary, which goes from over $4.6 million to over $10 million.

If he continues to flounder the way he did last year, it'll be an even bigger issue for Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf to try and deal with now.

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