6 Patriots on Thin Ice Following OTAs

These 6 players might not make the final cut with the New England Patriots
New England Patriots, Bailey Zappe
New England Patriots, Bailey Zappe / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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2. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver

It's surprising to see JuJu Smith-Schuster still on the New England roster following OTAs. The former Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs turned in a strong 2022 campaign with K.C. into a three-year deal with the Patriots. He was expected to be their No. 1 wide receiver but finished seventh on the team in receptions with 29.

Smith-Schuster managed a mere 260 yards and one touchdown during his first season with New England but his impact was even worse than the numbers suggest. The eighth year veteran finally seemed focused against one of his old teams as he recorded four receptions for 90 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14.

That proved to be his final game as Smith-Schuster was inactive for the final four weeks of the season. Outside of the game against Pittsburgh, he topped 50 yards just one time (going for 51 yards on six catches against the Washington Commanders) and had more than 30 just one more time (Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles).

On the flip side, Smith-Schuster had five games with fewer than 20 yards receiving and four with fewer than 10. That was while playing just 11 games.

New England is likely keeping him around at this point due to his contract. Releasing him would result in $9.6 million in dead money while saving them less than $650,000. They could save some of that if they were able to trade him but no team will be desperate enough to make that move. The Patriots might believe it's best to keep him around as an emergency wideout but if he continues to make a lot of money for doing nothing, it could send the wrong message to the roster.