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New York Jets 2021 free agent targets: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Lacking playmakers on the outside for their potential new quarterback, the New York Jets should target JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.

The New York Jets offense has been one of the worst units in the NFL this year. While there have been numerous issues, the wide receiver group has been one of the biggest, rarely performing any favors to whoever has been under center.

With the Jets having the ability to escape Jamison Crowder‘s contract after this season (they can cut him while taking on only $1M in dead money), it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jets move on from the slot receiver. Breshad Perriman is also an impending free agent.

Braxton Berrios has filled in admirably when called upon, but not enough so to be considered an answer at the position. It would be a monumental failure by Joe Douglas if the team doesn’t address the position in some way this offseason.

That brings us to one of the biggest names set to hit the free agent market in 2021: JuJu Smith-Schuster. With the Pittsburgh Steelers stressed on cap room, while enjoying the emergence of two young receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, there’s a strong possibility that Smith-Schuster isn’t retained by the team.

If Pittsburgh lets Smith-Schuster shake free, the Jets would be wise to target him when free agency hits. The film and the advanced numbers each showcase many of the intriguing skills he brings to the table.

What does he do well?

Smith-Schuster has the capability to play on the outside, but this year he has played primarily in the slot. He has run a league-leading 429 routes out of the slot this season, lining up in that position on 83.5% of his routes.

When Smith-Schuster had his best season in 2018, he had a healthy balance between his slot and outside usage, playing 58% of his snaps out of the slot. Granted, he had Antonio Brown easing the load, and his overall numbers have dipped since Brown’s exit, but Smith-Schuster remains a reliable slot weapon.

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