JuJu Smith-Schuster an upgrade over Jakobi Meyers? Ex-Patriots star weighs in

Can Smith-Schuster be an upgrade over Meyers? McCourty gives his take originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The performances of veteran wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jakobi Meyers will be compared and debated throughout the 2023 NFL season in this region.

The New England Patriots decided not to re-sign Meyers in free agency in March, which resulted in the 26-year-old wideout taking his talents to the Las Vegas Raiders on a three-year, $33 million contract. Soon after Meyers' departure, the Patriots signed Smith-Schuster to a three-year deal worth $33 million.

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Perry: Smith-Schuster embracing study of complex Patriots playbook

Same years. Same money. Same production? Will Smith-Schuster outperform Meyers next season?

"I think his time in the NFL has shown that he can do that," former Patriots safety Devin McCourty said Tuesday night on NBC Sports Boston show "Quick Slants."

"He played at a high level at Pittsburgh. Obviously, he had Antonio Brown opposite (him), he won't have that now. But I'm very interested (to see). I was a fan of keeping Jakobi. That's where I was, but I hope (Smith-Schuster) does fill that role and plays at a high level."

Training camp and the preseason will be important for Smith-Schuster as he builds chemistry with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and continues to learn the offense.


"I'm not sure this is an upgrade," NBC Sports Boston's Patriots insider Phil Perry said on "Quick Slants". "I just feel like you need to be able to get open quickly in the Patriots offense -- very different from that Kansas City Chiefs offense. I don't know if Smith-Schuster can do that. And he's gotta learn the offense, too, which is something he talked about with the media. He's got his flash cards going and studying like he's never studied before. There's going to be a lot thrown his way. He's got to be able to pick it up and pick it up quickly."

Smith-Schuster tallied 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games for the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs last season. He played his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and totaled 323 receptions for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns in 63 games.

Meyers led all Patriots wide receivers in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season. He was consistent, productive and reliable for Jones and every other quarterback in this offense. Smith-Schuster has huge shoes to fill. If he fails to meet expectations, the Patriots' passing offense could struggle to show significant improvement.