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Free agency profile: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

The six-year veteran is tough and knows the division. But is that enough for the Browns to take a gamble on him?

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have a nice opening pair in the wide receiver room in Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, who combined for 139 receptions, 1,999 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022.

The rest of the group, however, might leave general manager Andrew Berry taking a hard look for another wide receiver in free agency.

Even with the 2023 NFL Draft projected to be a good one for wide receivers, the Browns have other needs and may look to sign someone and save their draft assets to address the deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball.

With that in mind, here is a look at a free agent that might be interested in returning to the AFC North if the Browns are willing to open up the checkbook.

Name: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Position: Wide Receiver

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 215 pounds

2022 Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Stats: 2022: 16 games, 101 targets, 78 receptions, 933 yards, 3 touchdowns, 47 first-down catches, 12 yards per reception

Career: 79 games, 65 starts, 572 targets, 401 receptions, 4,788 yards, 29 touchdowns, 228 first-down catches, 11.9 yards per reception

PFF Grade: 70.8 overall, 72.2 receiving

2022 Contract: Final year of contract, $3.76 million with an additional $7.5 million in incentives

Fit with the Browns

After a down year in his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021, JuJu Smith-Schuster had to settle for a one-year, incentive-heavy deal with the Kansas City Chiefs for last season. He not only benefitted from being a member of a Super Bowl-winning team, but he also hit those incentives after showing the NFL that when healthy is still a reliable option in the passing game as Pro Football Focus credits him with just six drops on 247 targets over the past three seasons.

He may not be a true No. 1 wide receiver, but the Browns don’t need one with Amari Cooper on the roster. Rather Smith-Schuster would add another reliable outlet for quarterback Deshaun Watson, he is familiar with the AFC North, and he might be tempted by the idea of getting to play the Steelers twice a year to show them what they are missing.

Browns Player Signing Could Impact

When looking at wide receivers at risk on the current roster, Anthony Schwartz is a name that will always pop up first as he has struggled in his first two seasons. So that will likely be the default answer until Schwartz shows the team something or they move on from him.

How Signing Could Impact the NFL Draft

Wide receiver is only one of the position groups that the Browns need to address in the offseason, with defensive tackle and linebacker being on the list as well. If Berry decides to dip into what is expected to be a shallow pool of free-agent wide receivers, then defensive tackle would certainly put a lock on the top priority in the draft.


Medium - The Browns can use some additional help at wide receiver, but the free-agent market at the position is expected to be a weak one. PFF is projecting that Smith-Schuster will be in line for a three-year contract that averages $12 million a year with $24.5 million in guaranteed money, which if true may be more than Berry is willing to pony up.