Free agency in the NFL begins next week. Every year it is a scramble at the start. Teams try to find player matches for their roster, balancing performance and compensation.
The Arizona Cardinals likely will do something in free agency at receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, a soon-to-be free agent receiver is a perfect match for them.
The Cardinals’ perfect match is receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The Cardinals need someone who can work the middle of the field to take some heat off No. 1 wideout DeAndre Hopkins. And that’s what JuJu’s game is: the underneath middle of the field.
His game fell off a bit in 2020, and it remains to be seen whether he can be a true No. 1 receiver, but the beauty is that he won’t have to be the top guy in Arizona. Smith-Schuster posted an 81.8 PFF grade as Antonio Brown‘s understudy in Pittsburgh in 2018, but that number fell to 63.1 in 2019 and 70.0 in 2020. Becoming a secondary option again might do wonders for both JuJu and the Cardinals in the make-or-break year for the Kliff Kingsbury era.
Smith-Schuster had volume in reception, catching 97 passes in 2020, but averaged only 8.6 yards per catch. His 97 catches netted only 831 yards.
He does give the Cardinals a nice underneath receiver. He had 111 catches for 1,426 yards in 2018.
Would he be content as a No. 2 option?
He would seem to fit perfectly in the role that Larry Fitzgerald had the last two seasons and he would make the receiver room better immediately.
The price is what will matter. He is still only 24 years old. He will want to be a No. 1 receiver. He will want a big, long-term deal. And if he can’t get that, with the Cardinals already having DeAndre Hopkins, a one-year deal with the Cardinals doesn’t look like the best way to put up big numbers to cash in next year.
Smith-Schuster might be a good fit for the Cardinals, but the Cardinals probably are not a perfect match for Smith-Schuster.
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