JuJu Smith-Schuster Eyes Return to Chiefs in Free Agency

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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) catches a pass
(AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)
Colton Pool @CPoolReporter Feb 09, 2023, 9:47 AM
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs in 2022.
  • Smith-Schuster led the Chiefs receivers in yards and catches this past season.

All JuJu Smith-Schuster needed was some barbecue to know he would fit in.

The wide receiver signed with the Chiefs this past offseason after five years in Pittsburgh, highlighted by a Pro Bowl nod and being hampered by an injury that prevented him from playing most of the 2021 season. For the first time since he was drafted in 2017, Smith-Schuster was on the move.

Not long after he signed, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes invited him to his own workout facility in Texas. Smith-Schuster wasn’t sure what to expect.

The facility, which included football fields Mahomes uses, was impressive. His new teammates, who Smith-Schuster had never played with before, were easy to bond with. And the barbecue, of course, was a good final touch.

Smith-Schuster had bet on himself by signing a one-year, $3.8 million deal in Kansas City. And it was already paying off.

Now the wideout is playing in his first Super Bowl. And he pointed to that work before organized team activities even began as a reason why the Chiefs reached this point.

“Do I want to come back? Yeah, I want to come back,” Smith-Schuster said. “Of course, man. Look where I’m at. I want to come back to this.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster Super Bowl Player Prop

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Super Bowl receiving yards Over/Under is 36.5 and his receptions Over/Under is 3.5 for NFL betting. His Super Bowl odds to win MVP are +6600.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Leaves the Steelers

Smith-Schuster spent five seasons with the Steelers after being drafted in the second round out of USC in 2017. When he chose to go to Kansas City, he thought he would be playing alongside star Tyreek Hill.

That never materialized, as Hill was traded to the Dolphins mere days later. 

“This is an opportunity to showcase I can still play ball, and I can get more opportunities,” Smith-Schuster recalled thinking.

The adjustment was smooth for Smith-Schuster. He quickly created bonds with his teammates. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid noted how Mahomes and star tight end Travis Kelce brought the Chiefs’ new receivers into the mix.

And Smith-Schuster felt comfortable quickly. 

Kelce recalled him challenging his fellow wide receivers during training camp to push through exhaustion and get more work down.

“I’ve seen how quick he adjusted and how quick he locked down his role here as early as OTAs,” Chiefs offensive lineman Andrew Wylie said. “He truly is a pivotal part of this team and this offense.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster Leads Chiefs Wide Receivers

Smith-Schuster paced the Chiefs wide receivers with 933 yards on 78 receptions during the regular season. Kelce was the only other pass-catcher with higher production.

While he only tallied more than 100 yards in two games in 2022, he totaled more than 20 yards in all but two contests as well.

“He brings that level of consistency,” Wyile said. “You know the type of player he is and you know what he’s capable of.”

The Chiefs brought in multiple wideouts this offseason, and all of them bring different traits. Smith-Schuster, at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, is arguably the most physical among them.

Reid pointed out how he complements Kelce extremely well. Both have dependable hands, a knack for finding space in secondaries and an instinct for gaining extra yards after the catch.

“Obviously, he’s super talented and physically gifted,” Mahomes said. “He’s bigger than I think a lot of people understand, and now he’s able to run routes, those physical routes in between. 

“But I think the biggest thing is the joy he brings to the building every single day and the work ethic. I mean he’s a guy that works his tail off when he’s in the building and he’s kind of become one of the leaders of that receiving room. It’s cool to see.”

Smith-Schuster expects the Eagles to bring a heightened level of physicality in the Super Bowl. He’s looking forward to it. 

After all, this is the game that defines careers.

Smith-Schuster said he would love to stay in Kansas City. He now loves his teammates, his coaches and the franchise.

Perhaps he’ll prove one more time how valuable he is to this offense.

“This organization, what they’re doing is special,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s really cool. I’m just happy to be a part of it.

“We’re still building this legacy. It’s not done yet.”

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About the Author

Colton Pool

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Colton Pool is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM living in Bozeman, Montana, focusing on the NFL and NBA. Previously, he covered Montana State football at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and worked at newspapers in his home state of North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State in 2015.

Colton Pool is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM living in Bozeman, Montana, focusing on the NFL and NBA. Previously, he covered Montana State football at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and worked at newspapers in his home state of North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State in 2015.