clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL free agency 2023: New Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a more team-friendly deal than Jakobi Meyers

Both players signed three-year contracts in free agency.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Initial reports of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s contract with the New England Patriots raised some eyebrows: the 26-year-old had apparently signed the same basic contract as fellow wide receiver and ex-Patriot Jakobi Meyers did with the Las Vegas Raiders. Both players’ deals were reported as three-year pacts at a value of $33 million.

The devil lies in the details, however. While both Smith-Schuster and Meyers are indeed signed for three years and in a position to earn the initially reported money, there is one crucial difference: Smith-Schuster’s contract has a more team-friendly structure than Meyers’.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: Contract details

2023:
Base salary: $1.1 million (fully guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $2.63 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Incentives: $1.5 million
Salary cap hit: $4.67 million

2024:
Base salary: $7 million (fully guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $2.63 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Incentives: $3 million
Salary cap hit: $10.63 million

2025:
Base salary: $6.5 million
Signing bonus proration: $2.63 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Incentives: $3 million
Salary cap hit: $10.13 million

Even though Smith-Schuster entered free agency as one of the top wide receivers on the market, his contract is surprisingly reasonable. He is basically locked in for the first two years given the guarantees embedded into this deal, and has the ability to add value to his contract in all three seasons through incentives.

When it comes to Jakobi Meyers’ contract with the Raiders, there are some crucial differences.

Smith-Schuster, for example, received a higher total guarantee than the ex-Patriot, earning $16 million that way compared to Meyers’ $10.5 million. However, in his case, a lot of the total attainable contract value is tied to performance and availability: the roster bonuses each year are significantly different — $1 million for Smith-Schuster, $255,000 for Meyers — while he also has to earn all of his incentives to match Meyers’ potential compensation.

Looking at the cap hits each season illustrates this quite well.

Juju Smith-Schuster
2023: $4.67 million
2024: $10.63 million
2025: $10.13 million

Jakobi Meyers
2023: $7.29 million
2024: $12.83 million
2025: $12.83 million

Adding it up, one can see that Smith-Schuster’ total cap impact over the three years of the deal is $25.44 million. Meyers’, meanwhile, stands at $32.96 million.

Another difference is the team commitment. As noted above, Smith-Schuster is essentially locked into a roster spot with the Patriots for the next two seasons. Meyers, on the other hand, faces a deadline next March that will turn his $5 million salary into a full-guarantee. Releasing him before that point in time would create a relatively small dead cap charge for the Raiders ($3.67M) versus some serious savings ($9.17M).

This gives the Raiders a relatively easy out of the contract after one year. The overall point still stands, though: the Patriots signed Smith-Schuster at a lower rate, and put more pressure on him to perform.

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots signing WR JuJu Smith-Schuster?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    A
    (2235 votes)
  • 47%
    B
    (2648 votes)
  • 9%
    C
    (554 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (109 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (77 votes)
5623 votes total Vote Now