4 Patriots players we can safely call busts after the 2023 season

Washington Commanders v New England Patriots
Washington Commanders v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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JuJu Smith-Schuster

Another player doomed from the start is JuJu Smith-Schuster, whose initial signing was questioned since he was apparently brought in as Jakobi Meyers' replacement. It was not a move most Patriots fans wanted, as Meyers had quickly become a favorite and the leading receiver in an ever-changing offense.

But Belichick didn't see the same value in him, hence essentially giving the same contract to Smith-Schuster that Meyers received with the Raiders. It made the decision even more questionable, with the former Chiefs receiver coming in with a reported injury and Meyers recording one of the best years of his career during the 2022 season.

Trying to move on from what Belichick chose to do was made more difficult when Smith-Schuster couldn't participate much throughout the summer practices and preseason. And then those worries seemed to be validated once the season began, as he dealt with injuries that kept him out for six games throughout the year.

Smith-Schuster only took the field in 11 games and totaled 29 receptions for 260 yards and a touchdown, the worst statistical season of his career outside of the 2021 season when the year ended early due to injury.

He wasn't able to integrate into the offense as well as anyone hoped, not even after Kendrick Bourne went down with a torn ACL in the Patriots' second game against the Dolphins.

It was a disappointing first season for Smith-Schuster, who remains the subject of most trade talks this offseason, and because of his lackluster year, he could be on the outs when free agency begins next month.

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