Former Pro Bowl WR Named Cut Candidate For Patriots

New England Patriots
NFL Analysis Network

The New England Patriots had one of the worst receiving corps in football last season, and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s incredibly disappointing production was a big reason why.

The Patriots signed Smith-Schuster last spring, but the wide out logged just 29 catches for 260 yards and a touchdown in 11 games in 2023.

In Smith-Schuster’s defense, knee issues gave him considerable problems this past year, so it’s entirely possible that the veteran could bounce back in 2024.

He just may not get the chance to do that in New England.

Former Pats receiver Chris Hogan recently said that he does not think Smith-Schuster will make the roster, and Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay has named him a cut candidate heading into training camp.

How will the Patriots’ receiving corps look in 2024?

When you take into account how bad the Patriots’ receivers were last season, you would think it would look awfully bad for Smith-Schuster to get released.

But this is a different year, and New England is going with a different look.

The Pats invested a couple of high draft picks in wide outs back in April, selecting Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker. They will join a stable of receivers that also includes second-year pass-catcher DeMario Douglas, who showed some flashes in 2023. Plus, the Patriots signed K.J. Osborn in free agency, and Kendrick Bourne is making his way back from a torn ACL.

As you can see, there may not be a whole lot of room for Smith-Schuster in Foxborough, especially if his knee is going to continue being an issue.

On the positive side, Smith-Schuster is still just 27 years old, and he has some very productive campaigns in his rearview mirror. Back with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, for example, he hauled in 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl appearance.

However, it’s looking more and more like that season may have been a one-off for the USC product, who hasn’t managed to tally 1,000 yards in any one campaign since.

It should be noted that Smith-Schuster is just two years removed from catching 78 passes for 933 yards and three scores, but that was with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he had Patrick Mahomes throwing him the football.

As a matter of fact, since his breakout 2018 season, Smith-Schuster has only logged 600 yards receiving or better twice. Injuries have played a role in his downturn, but that cannot be discounted when evaluating whether or not he should make the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

We’ll see what becomes of Smith-Schuster in the coming months.

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