JuJu Smith-Schuster on why he chose Chiefs this time: ‘I made the decision to come here to win’

JuJu Smith-Schuster didn’t let the Kansas City Chiefs pass. A year after thwarting the chance to grab passes from Patrick Mahomes, and instead returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Smith-Schuster was still interested in Kansas City when he re-entered the free-agent market.

Smith-Schuster signed a one-year deal with Kansas City in hopes of being the player who will bring the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.

“For me, I made the decision to come here to win. It’s all about winning,” Smith-Schuster said in a conference call with reporters on Sunday. “It’s about what I can do to help the team and produce it. This year you will see that.

“You’ll see of course they have Tyreek (Hill), Travis (Kelce) and Mecole (Hardman) and all those guys, they’ll still make their plays. And the plays I get I want to make them too. Like me said, I’m here to win.”

Smith-Schuster did not regret his decision to return to the Steelers last year, a decision marred by a shoulder injury that limited him to five regular season games. He finished with 15 catches for 129 yards and zero touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards per catch. Smith-Schuster missed 12 games, but returned for the Chiefs’ loss of the wildcard.

“The shoulder is good,” Schuster said. “Of course I played the last game, the play-off game. Shoulder is fine. I’m training now. I train as far as everything goes, and yes, you will see me in there.”

The Chiefs needed a No. 2 wide receiver to add a new dimension to their passing game. Kansas City wanted a No. 2 wide receiver last season, but chose homegrown players Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle. Hardman and Pringle had their moments in 2021, combined for 101 catches and 1,261 yards and seven touchdowns.

Hardman had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, while Pringle had two catches for 13 yards. Hardman and Pringle combined for just two catches for 11 yards in the second half and failed to open when Cincinnati dropped eight back into cover to hold Mahomes down.

If the Chiefs had had Smith-Schuster, the outcome might have been different. Smith-Schuster has been a top player since entering the league in 2017, as his 204 catches (ninth), 2,478 yards (ninth), and 19 touchdowns (tied for fifth place) are all in the league’s top 10 ​(with him missing 12 games last year).

With a loaded AFC West on tap, Smith-Schuster is determined to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs as kings of the AFC — and give the franchise its second title in four years.

“It was a big part of the process,” Smith-Schuster said as to why he chose Kansas City this time. “You go into free agency and you find out who you’re going to throw the ball next year. It came down to Pat and I’m excited. I’m happy with my decision.”

Leave a Comment