Getty Former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

New England Patriots veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, is a potential cut candidate heading into training camp.

Smith-Schuster, who signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract with New England in 2023, is coming off of a season in which injuries and inconsistent play led to one of the lowest statistical outputs of his NFL career (29 catches, 260 yards, 1 TD in seven games played, per Pro Football Reference).

According to the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed — who spoke with Smith-Schuster this offseason — Smith-Schuster “estimates he was at 60% at this time last year when the Patriots kicked off OTAs and he was still sidelined by a knee procedure he underwent after winning Super Bowl LVII with the Chiefs.”

Per Kyed, Smith-Schuster now believes “he’s finally at 100% for his first time in a Patriots uniform after focusing on rest this offseason.”

But according to others who were also in attendance for the team’s spring practices — like The Athletic’s Chad Graff — there isn’t a noticeable difference in Smith-Schuster’s explosiveness compared to the last couple of years. That’s why Smith-Schuster isn’t currently a lock to make the Patriots roster, which is chock-full of young and drafted talent at receiver.

[Kendrick] Bourne, [Demario] Douglas, [KJ] Osborn, [Ja’Lynn] Polk and [Javon] Baker are leading candidates to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, so Smith-Schuster is likely competing for a spot with [Jalen] Reagor, [Tyquan] Thornton and [Kayshon] Boutte, among others,” Kyed wrote on May 20.

Patriots Can Handle Cutting JuJu Smith-Schuster

If the Patriots do decide to release Smith-Schuster, 27, with a post-June 1 designation, the team would save approximately $8.1 million against the cap over the next two years and would take on $12.2 million in dead money over the same period, per Over The Cap.

Though there is a bit of financial downside to cutting Smith-Schuster this year, New England has a league-leading $45.6 million in cap space. So, the dead money it would take on from releasing Smith-Schuster could be handled with ease. Because of that, unless Smith-Schuster shows more than he has over the last year, the veteran wideout will be released by the Patriots in the coming months.

Should the Chiefs Take a Flyer on JuJu Smith-Schuster if He’s Cut?

If Smith-Schuster is cut, it wouldn’t hurt the Chiefs to sign him to an incentive-ladened deal, if he’s willing. He could teach the team’s younger receivers the nuances of the Chiefs’ offensive system and potentially provide a tiny spark in the passing game. If he can’t do that, then Kansas City could part ways with him and suffer minimal cap casualties from it.

It would be a win-win for both sides, as the Chiefs need all the help they can get on their quest for a three-peat and Smith-Schuster is looking to prove he’s still a productive NFL receiver.

During the 2023 season with the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster registered 78 receptions on 101 targets for 933 yards and 3 touchdowns in 16 regular season games played. During the team’s Super Bowl run that season, he caught 10 passes on 12 targets for 89 yards.

The Chiefs’ current wide receiver room consists of Rashee Rice, Xavier Worthy, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Mecole Hardman, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Justyn Ross, Nikko Remigio, Cornell Powell, Montrell Washington, Phillip Brooks, and Jaaron Hayek

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