It seems that the New England Patriots were able to sign coveted free agent wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster this month for one very specific reason, and it had everything to do with their legendary head coach.
The New England Patriots entered the offseason with a sizable amount of salary cap space and several needs to fill. However, early on in 2023 NFL free agency, the team was hit with a notable loss when homegrown WR1 Jakobi Meyers decided to take his talents to Las Vegas to play for the Raiders over the next few seasons.
The move added a new problem to the variety of issues the team needed to address before next season. While they lost, arguably, the best wide receiver in free agency the organization was able to quickly fill the position on the depth chart with the player many saw as the next best wideout on the market, one-time Pro Bowler and 2022 Super Bowl champion Juju Smith-Schuster.
Like Meyers, Smith-Schuster was a sought-after talent on the open market and had a variety of options for his future, including a possible return to the Kansas City Chiefs. However, in the end, the 26-year-old chose the New England Patriots to be his third team in as many seasons.
New England Patriots record (2022): 8-9, third place in AFC East
During an appearance this week on New England radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub, Smitch-Schuster explained that being able to be wanted by a head coach he has a huge amount of respect for played a massive role in his decision.
“To be honest, it was [New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick], man. Just the want and the need and the position that I can fill there really caught my attention, and I felt that like that was the thing: feeling wanted in a place where I played against a head coach who have a lot of respect for. And I just think that goes a long way.”– Juju Smith-Schuster (h/t Pro Football Talk)
It is high praise considering Juju Smith-Schuster knows about legendary head coaches after playing under Pittsburgh Steelers great Mike Tomlin in his first five seasons in the league, then Andy Reid last season in Kansas City.