One of the biggest additions of the 2023 offseason for the Patriots was JuJu Smith-Schuster. What are realistic expectations for him in 2023? I think Smith-Schuster is a slight upgrade over Jakobi Meyers, who got virtually the same deal in free agency that JuJu got.
Should we expect the former Steeler and Chief to light it up and break the 1,000 yard mark in 2023, or should we have more modest expectations? Well, I think if you're more on the modest side, then you're on the right track.
JuJu Smith-Schuster has carved out a quality career thus far in the NFL. He turns just 27 years old this season but is entering his 7th season in the NFL.
His best year came alongside Antonio Brown when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Back in 2018, JuJu caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, earning his only Pro Bowl nod.
Since then, though, he has not been able to hit the 1,000 yard mark. He's established himself as a high-end WR2 in the NFL playing with Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes.
So, could Smith-Schuster really elevate into a true WR1 with Mac Jones? I don't think so, honestly. One thing that does bode in his favor is his 17 game average. According to Pro Football Reference, JuJu Smith-Schuster averages 86 receptions for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns over a full 17 game season, so perhaps he can finish with a stat line similar to that in 2023.
However, given what I just mentioned about him going from Big Ben and Mahomes to Mac Jones, and the Patriots likely becoming a run-first team, I don't think JuJu is going to hit that 1,000 yard mark, but I would happily eat my words.
I would look to his 2020 season as what I think he could do in the offense for the Patriots in 2023. In 2020, he caught 97 receptions for 831 yards and nine touchdowns. I do think the touchdowns and receptions would be lower, but I think that stat line is a good ballpark to look at for him in 2023.
Would that be him living up to his contract? Should we expect more from the talented WR?