Last offseason, the New England Patriots made a decision to move in a different direction with their wide receiver corps. They allowed Jakobi Meyers to leave town for a free-agent deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, and they signed JuJu Smith-Schuster in his place. 

Smith-Schuster got a contract (3 years, $25.5 million with $16 million guaranteed) that was only a bit smaller than the one Meyers got, three years, $33 million, also $16 million guaranteed), so it did look like a bit like a direct choice between the two players. In the first season of those deals, it did not work out the way New England intended.

Meyers took over the No. 2 role in the Vegas passing game behind Davante Adams, and he finished the season with 71 catches for 807 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. Smith-Schuster struggled with injuries right from the start of the offseason, and he was able to appear in only 11 games. He caught just 29 passes for 260 yards and one score while playing only 65% of New England's offensive snaps.

Smith-Schuster said he was only around 60% healthy this time last year, via the Boston Herald, and that he is now 100% heading into his second season with the Pats, after he spent much of this offseason resting and watching Bridgerton. 

"It's a big difference," Smith-Schuster said Monday. "It's not easy coming off a knee injury and having a long season and coming back really short… I feel great, honestly. I feel great. I've never felt better. I'm just excited to finally be out here around this time and participating."

With a new quarterback on hand in Drake Maye, New England will need its pass-catching corps to take a step forward and aid the rookie in his development. When he's at his best, Smith-Schuster can be a reliable underneath target out of the slot, which is obviously something that can help a great deal. We haven't seen him at his best in a while, but perhaps a healthy offseason will help him return to that level.