mike reesESPN Group of workers Creatorlearn 4 mins
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Invoice Belichick at all times had a wonder or two up his hoodie sleeve in loose company, and so far, the largest of 2023 has been his receiver switch JuJu Smith-Schuster for Jakobi Meyers.
Even longtime protection Devin McCourty did not see it coming. Saying his retirement final week, he mentioned on sports activities radio WEEI that he was once shocked the staff didn’t deliver Meyers again at the three-year, $33 million contract he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Meyers had expressed hobby in returning to New England, in line with a supply with direct wisdom of the talks, however the staff’s gives had been less than others available on the market.
McCourty, who has turn out to be a pillar of what the group strives to constitute during the last 13 years, noticed Meyers as no longer most effective the staff’s best pass-catcher, but in addition in New England’s line of serious leaders. .
“Shifting from a management point of view, he is the type of particular person you assert ‘be like him.’ Undrafted boy. earned it. “Works his butt off each day,” McCourty mentioned within the radio interview. “So I feel it is a large loss. Identical as Julian Edelman.”
That is a excessive comparability, and undoubtedly one thing Belichick did not surrender with out nice attention.
Belichick regularly states that any choices he makes are in the most efficient pursuits of the staff; For the reason that Meyers and Smith-Schuster signed identical contracts, apparently that they have got made a transparent calculation that Smith-Schuster is an total improve.
For one, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Smith-Schuster is extra of a danger after the catch. In line with NFL Subsequent Gen StatsHis yards after catching greater than anticipated final season had been +141, which was once 5th within the NFL, in the back of Jaylen Waddle of the Dolphins, AJ Brown of the Eagles, J’Mar Chase of the Bengals and Debo Samuel of the 49ers.
Whilst a part of that can be associated with the Chiefs’ high-flying offense enjoying — and the way defenders even have to concentrate on Travis Kelce and others — YAC has been a large section since Smith-Schuster entered the sport. Is. As a 2d around select of the Pittsburgh Steelers within the NFL in 2017.
Smith-Schuster, who like Meyers, suits perfect within the box, however with the versatility to play out of doors, has additionally had extra profession manufacturing than Meyers.
In 79 video games (65 begins), he totaled 401 receptions for 4,788 yards with 29 touchdowns. Meyers performed in 60 video games and had 235 catches for two,758 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Belichick anticipates that may proceed in New England, which is a part of the chance groups take and avid gamers take loose company. Talking from a participant’s viewpoint, McCourty mentioned in a WEEI radio interview that the ones projections is usually a burden.
“That is why the general public are very at ease staying (on their staff) when you receives a commission across the price you assume you must be getting paid and you will have earned that. As a result of ‘I understand how it is going to play out. I do know I will be able to be productive on this machine,” he mentioned.
“Like Jonnu (Smith). jonnu is one Excellent Soccer participant However you move away and transfer to a brand new machine, how will it paintings? A lot is unknown.
Smith surely signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Patriots in March of 2021. On Monday, after two subpar seasons, he was once traded to the Atlanta Falcons in change for a seventh-round select.
Belichick has assumed any other notable part of possibility in swapping Meyers for Smith-Schuster, and it pertains to his oft-repeated word, “Not anything is extra essential than the well being of a soccer staff.”
Smith-Schuster, even though most effective 26, has struggled with notable accidents in his profession, because of his bodily taste of play. Maximum lately, he ignored all 5 video games in 2021 with a shoulder harm. Ultimate season, he was once identified with an harm after soaking up a troublesome hit in a gap recreation in December that sidelined him the next week. He later struggled with a knee harm that dominated him out of the AFC Championship Recreation.
That harm historical past hasn’t stopped the Chiefs from making an attempt to deliver Smith-Schuster again in 2023, however the Patriots are prepared to supply a extra profitable contract, in line with a entrance place of business supply.
In doing so, after no longer aggressively negotiating a go back with Meyers, Belichick rolled the cube with one among his patented surprises.