The New York Jets are reportedly interested in one of the biggest-name wide receivers on the free agent market, JuJu Smith-Schuster.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the New York Jets are showing interest in household name wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Interesting development in the WR market: The #Jets have been having conversations with #Steelers FA WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, sources say, a potential target in their offense. Despite having signed Corey Davis, NYJ may not be done adding playmakers. Smith-Schuster is one to watch.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
Smith-Schuster is only 24 years old and will turn 25 in November. The USC product began his career with a bang, flashing superstar upside from 2017-18 as he averaged 78.1 receiving yards per game on 9.6 yards per target.
However, since Pittsburgh said goodbye to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, placing a greater burden on Smith-Schuster’s shoulders, his production has fallen off a cliff. From 2019-20, Smith-Schuster averaged 49.4 yards per game on 7.0 yards per target.
In 2020, Smith-Schuster was a clutch performer as he scored nine touchdowns, ranked fourth in the league with a combined 12 first downs and touchdowns in the red zone, and tied for second with 24 third-down conversions, but his overall production was extremely lackluster.
His average of 1.54 yards per route run ranked 54th out of 95 qualified wide receivers while his average of 6.5 yards per target ranked 88th out of 95 qualified wide receivers. On first or second down plays outside of the red zone, he ranked 66th with 18 conversions despite seeing 73 targets in those situations, 21st-most in the league.
Signing Smith-Schuster would leave the Jets with an interesting decision regarding Jamison Crowder. Both players call the slot their primary home. Smith-Schuster ran 84.9% of his routes out of the slot in 2020, while Crowder ran 72.1% of his routes out of the slot. However, Smith-Schuster’s slot rate over his first three seasons was lower at 66.1%.
Smith-Schuster is undoubtedly one of the biggest boom-or-bust targets on the market. He presents obvious upside after posting elite production throughout his first two seasons at just 21 and 22 years old. However, once Pittsburgh’s other elite weapons skipped town and left the spotlight squarely fixated on Smith-Schuster, he went on to become one of the NFL’s least efficient high-volume targets over a two-season span.
Which player will Smith-Schuster’s next team be getting?