Jags could soon be among teams interested in Smith-Schuster
The free agency tampering period will begin in less than a day, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to be one of the teams that come out of it with several upgrades. This must especially be the case on the offensive end of the ball where Trevor Lawrence needs skill weapons and new starters on the offensive line around him.
Although they weren’t able to complete the move, the Jags already showed interest in acquiring the help of a veteran receiver when they got involved in the trade for Amari Cooper. Now they’ll have to look to free agency for an answer, and according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, they are considering one of the best receivers on the market and should consider others.
One of those players should be JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Allen Robinson II is the beneficiary of Mike Williams’ $20 million a year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers and Chris Godwin’s $19.2 million franchise in Tampa Bay. Those numbers increase the receiver market, and Robinson could be looking at up to $18 million a year on a new contract. Cleveland’s trade for Amari Cooper knocks the Browns out of the big-money receiver market for Robinson and others. But the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots should be looking.
JuJu Smith-Schuster will have options this week, starting with a potential re-signing with Pittsburgh. The Eagles, Chiefs, Bears and Jaguars could also be involved in Monday’s tampering period, I was told.
Smith-Schuster, 25, was drafted in the 2017 second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers and has played there ever since. Over five seasons, he had 323 catches for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns and was also named Pro Bowler once in 2018.
However, he will be coming off a season where his stats were down due to season-ending shoulder surgery in October. As a result, he only played in five regular season games and racked up 15 receptions for 129 regular season yards, but was able to return to the playoffs when the team faced the Kansas City Chiefs.
While it doesn’t necessarily add speed to offense, it would give Lawrence a threat that can shake things up after capture. It would be huge, and they would still have the project to further improve the position.
Like many free-agent receivers, figuring out what to pay Smith-Schuster is the hardest part, though. Like Jags receiver DJ Chark Jr., he only had one season where he rushed for over 1,000 yards, the season he went to the Pro Bowl in 2018.
That said, maybe a deal like Courtland Sutton’s is a place to start because he was a receiver who recently got a big payday, but is in a similar position to Smith-Schuster in terms of having a 1,000 yard season and a Pro Bowl nod. This agreement was a four-year extension worth $60.8 million, with a guaranteed amount of $34.9 million. Then again, with that kind of guaranteed money, going for former Jags draft pick Allen Robinson might be a wiser move because he’s a more productive player.
Only time will tell if the Jags get the receiver help they need for Lawrence in free agency. there will be a limited number of options to choose from in the process, so it looks like they will have to be much more aggressive than they have been so far under general manager Trent Baalke to acquire one of the options mentioned above.