The Jets could be adding another free-agent wide receiver. Per reports, the team is speaking with JuJu Smith-Schuster.
More playmakers to Florham Park?
Yes, it’s a development that may be gaining steam.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Jets are speaking with free-agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The former Pittsburgh Steeler has yet to agree or sign a contract with a new team (or his previous team) — the “legal tampering” period began Monday while the free agency period officially commenced Wednesday.
Interesting development in the WR market: The #Jets have been having conversations with #Steelers FA WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, sources say, a potential target in their offense. Despite having signed Corey Davis, NYJ may not be done adding playmakers. Smith-Schuster is one to watch.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
As Rapoport noted, the Jets already agreed to a three-year deal with talented wideout Corey Davis, making it a priority to upgrade that position. But being they could still afford Smith-Schuster, there’s a chance a deal gets done at some point in the coming days.
JuJu would slot in nicely alongside Davis, likely taking on more of a slot receiver role within Mike LaFleur’s offense. It’s unclear, however, which quarterback he’d be working with in New York. The Jets still haven’t decided (at least publicly) whether they’ll be going with Sam Darnold in his fourth season or drafting Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. Could trading for Deshaun Watson still be a possibility?
Regardless of who’s under center, the Jets need playmakers — the team finished last in total offense, scoring, and 31st in passing last year. If the quarterback is either Darnold or Wilson, New York will certainly need guys who could help either develop.
It’s worth noting Darnold and JuJu played collegiate ball together at Southern California.
Adding Smith-Schuster to a receiving corps that already includes Davis and pending second-year man Denzel Mims would make Jamison Crowder’s Jets future all the more unclear. The Joe Douglas-led front office may be reluctant to spend too much money on one position group. Crowder’s 2021 cap hit is set to be $11.375 million while his dead cap charge would only be $1 million — over $10 million would be saved by releasing him.
Over $11 million would not fare well with the organization financially considering Davis’ 2021 cap hit is $9.33 million. JuJu, on the other hand, would potentially receive around $15 million per year in a new contract.
In the event they sign Smith-Schuster, the Jets may opt to bring back Breshad Perriman instead of keeping Crowder. Perriman played on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million last season and could snag another fairly cheap amount on a per-year basis.
Mims obviously wouldn’t go anywhere, given his cheap price tag (he’s currently on a rookie deal) and significant upside.
There may, however, be some competition for JuJu’s services. Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Steelers could still keep Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh.
While @RapSheet says the #Jets have conversations with JuJu Smith-Schuster, the #Steelers haven't closed the door on a return and have remain engaged in the situation the last few days. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 18, 2021