The Chiefs have been busy this offseason across the board. However, the biggest change has to be to the wide receiver room. The first move was signing Juju Smith-Schuster to a one-year prove-it deal. Tyreek Hill was traded shortly after, and the team allowed veteran receivers Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle to walk in free agency. Marquez Valdez-Scantling was also added through free agency, and finally, Skyy Moore was drafted in the second round.
The Chiefs will have to find a way to split up the 260 targets that went to Hill, Pringle, and Robinson last season. Overall, the wide receiver room may have actually improved. The offense has a chance to be much more balanced, but the Chiefs seemingly lack an elite difference-maker on the outside. Who might emerge?
Of all the receivers on the roster, Juju Smith-Schuster has the greatest chance of breaking out this season. “MVS” is best as a true deep threat, and Skyy Moore will still be learning the offense. Justyn Ross could be a wildcard, but likely also needs a year to learn the offense. So, Smith-Schuster will be in a prime opportunity to not only bounce back in 2022 but possibly earn some hardware along the way.
As A New Chiefs Wide Receiver, Juju Has Something To Prove
Smith-Schuster only played in five games in 2021 due to injury. The year before he played in all 16 games and put up a career-high nine touchdown receptions. Juju is also just three years removed from a 1,400-yard season and is just 25 years old.
Juju decided to take a prove-it deal with the Steelers last season, but due to the injury once again finds himself on a one-year deal laced with incentives. This may be his last chance to earn a major contract. If Smith-Schuster puts up monster numbers it either forces the Chiefs to pay him or use the franchise tag next offseason.
The Chiefs have plenty of players with something to prove this year, but Juju is in the prime position to capitalize on his situation. If he can’t make it work with Patrick Mahomes, then that may be a signal to the rest of the league that he’s a role player at best. However, I think he still possesses superstar potential.
What Will Smith-Schuster’s Role Be In The Chiefs Offense?
In recent years Juju has found a role as a bigger-bodied slot receiver. While he will still play in the slot, it’s probable that he will have a much-expanded role in the Chiefs’ offense. The Chiefs love their motion plays and will play a variety of players in the slot. This includes tight ends and running backs.
While there are some concerns with Juju’s deep speed, he does have multiple 97-yard TDs on his resume. Regardless, Smith-Schuster may not find himself deep often and that may be a good thing. Since the departure of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have missed having a big-bodied possession receiver who can move the sticks on third downs.
Juju can play outside and in the slot. Similar to Michael Thomas in 2019, the ideal role for Smith-Schuster is as a target monster. As previously mentioned there are 260 targets that will need to be filled. If Juju works out he could take over half of those for himself. Not only will this help him get a long-term contract, but it will make sure the Chiefs’ offense is moving efficiently and consistently down the field. As the defense will be much younger this year, eating more time off the clock with slower offensive drives will be better.
Smith-Schuster Has A Chance To Win Awards For Chiefs In 2022
If Juju can put up a 1,000-yard season with around ten touchdowns then he will be a frontrunner for comeback player of the year. There are other players who will be in contention, but few have the opportunity that Juju has.
Both Michael Thomas and Jameis Winston will be competing for the award, but as they are on the same team they will inevitably take votes from each other. Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry may both be good but are both likely past their primes as running backs.
One of the most underrated aspects of the award is recency bias. Juju will need to finish the season strong. If he starts slow it won’t matter nearly as much as if he ends on a bad note. A game-winning touchdown near the end of the season would leave a lasting memory in the minds of award voters.
I have faith in Juju to not only succeed with the Chiefs but to become a superstar. If he doesn’t? Well, he was signed to a one-year deal for a reason.
Do you think Juju Smith-Schuster will dominate for the Chiefs next year? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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