NY Jets having conversations with JuJu Smith-Schuster, per Ian Rapoport

NY Jets, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
NY Jets, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets have had a quiet 48 hours after making a splash on the first day of the legal tampering period. But they could be in for another notable signing with rumors indicating they’re showing interest in wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Jets “have been having conversations” with the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver.

The Jets were reportedly interested in Smith-Schuster prior to the start of free agency with multiple reports indicating that he was one of their top free-agent targets. However, we haven’t heard much on that front since free agency has kicked off.

Smith-Schuster remains a free agent on the fourth day of the signing period, perhaps an indication that his market hasn’t developed the way he had hoped. And the Jets might be looking to take advantage of that.

JuJu Smith-Schuster would be a perfect fit for the NY Jets

A second-round pick of the Steelers in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster burst on to the scene his rookie year accumulating 917 yards on 58 catches as part of Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense.

The young wideout looked well on his way to stardom, and that notion was supported when he tore up the NFL in 2018 racking up a whopping 1,426 yards on 111 catches establishing himself as one of the best wide receivers in football that year.

Unfortunately, the departure of Antonio Brown in 2019 didn’t help, and the same goes for the abysmal quarterback play from the likes of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.

As a result, Smith-Schuster fell off the subsequent season finishing with just 42 catches for 552 yards. He bounced back nicely in 2020 hauling in 97 catches for 831 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns, but the writing seemed to be on the wall.

His off-field antics upset some in Pittsburgh’s front office and the addition of players like Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron left him a bit overshadowed.

But at just 24-years-old, he likely has one of the highest upsides of any free agent on the market.

Smith-Schuster would be an excellent fit in new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system given his speed and YAC ability, although the latter wasn’t on display much in 2020.

His signing could very well coincide with the release of Jamison Crowder as both players would occupy a similar role in the offense.

As for what this means for his former USC teammate, Sam Darnold — likely not much.

Despite others claiming the opposite, it’s hard to believe that the Jets signing Smith-Schuster (only when his market came down, mind you) would mean anything about the future of Darnold.

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Nonetheless, the Jets are interested in signing JuJu Smith-Schuster. And that’s good news for an offense that’s desperately in need of young playmakers.