At first glance, Smith-Schuster has a significant contract that’s one year for $10.75 million.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is getting a one-year, $10.75M deal with the Chiefs, per source.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 18, 2022
However, most of this salary will hinge on his play during the 2022 season.
Of the $10.75 million, only $2.49 million is fully guaranteed with a per-game bonus of up to $510,000.
The #Chiefs' deal for WR JuJu Smith-Schuster comes in around $3 million on the base value with the rest of the $10.75 million max value @RapSheet reported coming in the form of incentives, sources say.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 18, 2022
He had some excellent seasons in Pittsburgh, but his stats were never consistent.
That might have been a factor in the Chiefs offering a contract like this to him.
But will Smith-Schuster have a breakout year in 2022 to cash in on his contract?
Chiefs Are Banking On Improvement With Incentive-Based Contract
With only $2.49 million guaranteed, that leaves $8.26 million for Smith-Schuster to earn.
The Chiefs have clearly looked at his previous stats with the Steelers.
Some of his past seasons have been impressive.
Other stats have seen him disappoint those who saw him as an elite replacement for Antonio Brown.
But it looks like the Chiefs hope making an incentive deal with him will bring him back to the time of his best performances in Pittsburgh.
It will also show if he is hungry for the additional money by hitting those milestones in the contract.
If he proves he is hungry for all the incentive money, he will have that career year in 2022.
Patrick Mahomes Loves To Pass
Another factor in Smith-Schuster’s chances of a career year is quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes’s record of passing the ball gives Smith-Schuster plenty of chances to get his catches and yards.
While Tyreek Hill is the clear number one on the team, Smith-Schuster will still have opportunities to get his touches.
He can be the player that takes the pressure off Hill.
That means he could get most of the catches until defenses switch over to covering him instead of Hill.
Mahomes knows how to pick a defense apart and can use him to do that against the defense.
Smith-Schuster Does Better As A Number Two Receiver
His best two seasons in the NFL came when he was the number two behind Brown.
Games with Antonio Brown as teammate 30
Games w/o Antonio Brown as teammate 33
100-yd-rec games with Brown as teammate 11
100-yd-rec games w/o Brown as teammate 1
Can playing alongside Tyreek Hill unlock Juju? pic.twitter.com/rzstbSqobC
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) March 18, 2022
They will use him as the number two behind Hill with the Chiefs.
That gives him the chance of having a breakout season.
It was the case in Pittsburgh when he was number two behind Brown.
So it has a chance of being the case here in Kansas City.
Defenses can’t double team every receiver they play.
With Hill and Smith-Schuster, they have to make a choice.
If they double one, the other will have single coverage and could beat it easily.
Mahomes is a quarterback that can execute when he sees his player in single coverage.
You are more likely to get that single coverage as a number two.
When Mahomes sees that, he will get the ball to him.
All Smith-Schuster Needs To Do Is Focus On Running His Routes
If he wants the money and to break his previous career stats, he needs to focus on route running.
If he can do that, Mahomes will get him the ball.
With that opportunity, he could have a career year in 2022.