Smith-Schuster is projected to be one of the more high-profile free agents this year and the Jets, along with a host of other teams, could be interested.
In fact, NFL analyst Peter Schrager went on Good Morning Football on Friday and made the case for why the Jets should and will sign Smith-Schuster in free agency.
Schrager highlighted his age, his connection to Sam Darnold, and his marketability in the New York area as to why it makes sense. And to some degree, Schrager is absolutely right.
The NY Jets make sense as a landing spot for JuJu Smith-Schuster
At just 24-years-old, Smith-Schuster will be one of the most intriguing names on the market, assuming the Steelers don’t re-sign him (he’s expected to test free agency). It’s fair to say that his best football might still be ahead of him.
It’s easy to forget, but Smith-Schuster is just two years removed from a 1,400-yard campaign in 2018 in which he hauled in 111 receptions and made his first Pro Bowl. With 2,343 yards over his first two seasons, Smith-Schuster looked well on his way to stardom.
But he took a major step back in 2019, partially due to some awful quarterback play from the likes of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Smith-Schuster hauled in 42 catches for just 552 yards in 12 games — quite the drop-off from a production standpoint.
He somewhat returned to form in 2020 recording a whopping 97 catches for 831 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns, but his play was overshadowed by the likes of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.
The emergence of Johnson and Claypool has made Smith-Schuster somewhat expendable which is why it’s hard to see Pittsburgh bringing him back.
You also, of course, have to consider the off-field factor. Smith-Schuster became just as known for his off-field antics in 2020 as he did for his on-field success and his reputation around the league took a bit of a hit.
Is that enough to scare a team like the Jets away? Perhaps, but for the right price, it’s hard to argue that Smith-Schuster wouldn’t be worth it from a sheer talent perspective.
If the Jets were to sign Smith-Schuster, it would be interesting to see what that means for Jamison Crowder. Both players play primarily out of the slot and the latter holds an $11.38 million cap hit that could be cut for just a $1 million dead cap charge.
It’s also worth noting that it’s far from a guarantee that Darnold sticks around to play with his former USC teammate. While a Darnold/Smith-Schuster reunion would be a nice story, there’s a very good chance the Jets move on from the former No. 3 overall pick in the offseason.
Either way, however, JuJu Smith-Schuster makes sense as a free-agent target for the Jets. And Schrager isn’t alone in that opinion.