JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn't passing up the Kansas City Chiefs again. One year after nixing the opportunity to catch passes from Patrick Mahomes, instead returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Smith-Schuster still had interest from Kansas City as he hit the free-agent market again.
Smith-Schuster signed a one-year deal with Kansas City, hoping he's the player that gets the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.
"For me, I made the decision to come here to win. I'm all about winning," Smith-Schuster said in a conference call with reporters Sunday. "I'm all about what I can do to help the team and produce. This year you'll see that.
"You'll see that obviously they have Tyreek (Hill), Travis (Kelce) and Mecole (Hardman) and all those guys, they'll still make their plays. And the plays that I do get, I'll want to make them too. Like I said, I'm here to win."
Smith-Schuster didn't regret his decision to return to the Steelers last year, one which was 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 he returned for the wild card playoff loss to the Chiefs.
"The shoulder is good," Schuster said. "Obviously, I played in the last game, the playoff game. Shoulder is doing fine. I'm working out now. I'm training a far as everything goes, and yes, you'll see me out there participating."
The Chiefs needed a No. 2 wide receiver in order to add another dimension to their passing game. Kansas City wanted a No. 2 wide receiver last season, yet settled on homegrown players Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle. Hardman and Pringle had their moments in 2021, combining 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 get open when Cincinnati dropped eight back in coverage to contain Mahomes.
If the Chiefs had Smith-Schuster, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Smith-Schuster has been a top slot wide receiver since entering the league in 2017, as his 204 catches (ninth), 2,478 yards (ninth), and 19 touchdowns (tied for fifth) all rank amongst the top-10 in the league (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 get the franchise its second title in four years.
"It was a big part of the process," Smith-Schuster said on why he chose Kansas City this time around. "You go into free agency, and you find out who's going to be throwing you the ball next year. It came down to Pat and I'm excited. I'm happy with my decision."