The New England Patriots made a splash in free agency by acquiring wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and he explained what made him want to come to New England.
Smith-Schuster spoke with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand and explained why he wanted to join the Patriots.
“To be honest, it was (Bill) Belichick, man,” Smith-Schuster said. “The guy, you know — just the want and the need. And the position that I can fill there really, really caught my attention. And … feeling wanted in a place where I played against, a head coach I have a lot of respect for. And I just think that goes a long way.
“The tradition was always there,” Smith-Schuster added about New England. “I’ve always had respect for the Patriots.”
Smith-Schuster is coming off a successful season with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2022, the wide receiver racked up 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns per Pro Football Reference.
With the departure of Jakobi Meyers, Smith-Schuster will be looked upon to put up similar numbers with New England in 2023 and be a leading pass catcher.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Also Excited to Work With Bill O’Brien
While Belichick is the reason that Smith-Schuster is coming to New England, the wide receiver is also excited to work with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
“It’s going to be a little bit of everything, them giving me the opportunity to go inside-outside,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think what Bill (O’Brien) does bring to the table is being able to dominate on the offensive game plan, and me coming in and filling those roles. Obviously, they see potential in what I can do.”
O’Brien has joined the Patriots after spending some time in college football with Alabama.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Believes Mac Jones Has Lots of Potential
Now that Smith-Schuster is in New England, he will go from having MVP Patrick Mahomes tossing him the ball to third-year quarterback Mac Jones.
While it might appear to be a drop-off, Smith-Schuster is already impressed with what he has seen from Jones.
“That dude loves, breathes New England. He’s the definition of a Patriot,” Smith-Schuster said of Jones. “Even in my short time, like my 24 hours to be in New England, he was there constantly working out with the guys, just getting after it, getting it in the books.
“He was a rookie Pro Bowler, so the dude has a lot of potential. I can’t wait to get right with him.”
Jones struggled in 2022. The quarterback only threw for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions per Pro Football Reference.
After a difficult season, Jones can use all the support that he can get. The words from Smith-Schuster are likely to have him even more excited for the 2023 season to arrive.
Jones isn’t just receiving praise from Smith-Schuster, the recently retired Devin McCourty shouted out Jones in his retirement press conference.
“But what I am excited about is watching this team grow,” McCourty said. “Like I look at my guy Mac here — first row, right here to be here to support me. I look at the team and I know the team has great leadership because of a guy like him.”