Inside the JuJu Smith-Schuster incentive package

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It was sold as a one-year, $10.75 million deal. As we’ve known for nearly a week, it’s not.

Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Chiefs. The deal includes an incentive package that can result in another $7.5 million.

With Tyreek Hill traded, those incentives become far more relevant. We’ve obtained the full details, from a source with knowledge of the agreement.

For at least 40 receptions, Smith-Schuster gets another $500,000. For at least 50 receptions, that number becomes $1 million. At 65 receptions, it maxes out at $1.5 million.

For at least 500 receiving yards, he gets another $500,000. For at least 650 receiving yards, it becomes $1 million. At 900 yards, the amount reaches the limit of $1.5 million.

For 45-percent playing time, he gets another $500,000. For 65-percent playing time, it becomes $1.5 million.

For making it to the Pro Bowl, Smith-Schuster earns another $1 million.

The final $2 million combines individual and team performance. If Smith-Schuster plays in at least 50-percent of the AFC Championship and if the Chiefs win the game, he gets another $500,000 for 65 regular-season receptions and another $500,000 for 900 regular-season receiving yards. If Smith-Schuster plays in at least 50-percent of the Super Bowl and if the Chiefs win, he gets another $500,000 for 65 regular-season receptions and another $500,000 for 900 regular-season receiving yards.

The absence of Hill changes the calculus for Smith-Schuster. He’s likely to play more, and possibly to get more targets. But he’s also more likely to enjoy unfavorable matchups, given that defenses won’t be focused on stopping both Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

Here’s the real question. What did the Chiefs and Smith-Schuster know and when did he know it regarding a potential Tyreek Hill trade when Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs? Smith-Schuster agreed to terms a day after the trade that sent Davante Adams to the Raiders. And, as agent Drew Rosenhaus said on Thursday, the Adams trade changed everything.

So did the Chiefs know they’d be losing Hill when they persuaded Smith-Schuster to accept a base package of only $3.25 million ($1.455 million signing bonus, $1.035 million salary, $250,000 workout bonus, and $510,000 in per-game roster bonuses)? Did Smith-Schuster know?

If the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second question is no, Smith-Schuster may have been able to get more than $3.25 million in base pay, since he would have known that the Chiefs had an enhanced need at the position.

Regardless, Smith-Schuster’s experience with the Chiefs will be dramatically different without Hill than it would have been with Hill. It’s entirely possible that Smith-Schuster had no idea Hill would be gone less than a week after JuJu signed his name to a contract.

28 responses to “Inside the JuJu Smith-Schuster incentive package

  1. He’s never succeeded as a number 1. I’m not sure he’ll do well as a #1 here either.

  2. Regardless of whether he knew about Hill, Ju-Ju’s contract is a show-me/prove-it deal, from the team’s perspective. The real question is, can Smith-Schuster show the NFL that he’s worth top tier WR money. The team makes out like bandits unless they actually get to and win the Superbowl and Ju-Ju hits all his goals. Then, he’ll demand a lot, and the team will have to pay up or ship another good WR out the door. I love the prove-it contracts. So much drama. But, if you can hoist the trophy, it’ll all be worth it.

  3. Trading Hill is going to hurt Ju-Ju’s ability to reach those incentives. He’s not a true WR1 so teams should be able to shut him down with single coverage. That’s going to hurt Kelce too since they should be able to double him without the threat of Hill running wild. Those numbers are reachable. However, Ju-Ju needs to focus on playing the game instead of continuing to engage in extra-curricular stuff. Can he do that? Who knows.

  4. I’m sure players hate incentive-based contracts, but with the increasingly ridiculous amount of guaranteed money being demanded by players, I can’t see how it doesn’t become more common.

    The current system seems odd. You’re essentially asking for a huge raise from a new employer based on what you did for an old employer, without any incentives for performance on your new team once the ink has dried.

    With the mountain of guaranteed money being handed out these days, players will be set for life before they ever see the field for your team. Not many guys are high-character enough to keep improving beyond that point.

    Personally, I think every player contract with value above the median pay for the team should be heavily incentive-based. If players are worth giving that kind of money to, they should have to earn it with what they actually do while getting it.

  5. With Pittsburgh JuJu wasn’t the best as a #1 receiver. With Mahomes he has that chance. I love the deal. This is his chance to prove he can be that top receiver based on real performance, not past performance. This is structured like a dangling carrot to reach for and could be the exact way to bring that performance out. Whether he knew or not it is a win-win for both him and the team to do their jobs and make the incentives.

  6. That heavy incentive laden contract sure keep things interesting for Juju. And his accountant.

  7. As to the question of who knew what when – he might have gotten a bit more, but there’s no way KC or any other team gets extorted for a huge contract from Smith-Schuster. He’s just not good enough or proven enough to force the issue – if he tried, they probably would have just moved on to the next guy.

  8. They also have Hardman and I think Josh Gordon is finally going to prove how good he really is. This season is shaping up to be one of the more anticipated ones in a long time. So manyQB’s and big FA moved around. Will the Browns fail, will Trubisky shine or become a back up for the remainder of his career, is this the year the Bills make it to their first SB in decades, will Rodgers succeed without Adams, are the Cardinals heading to another rebuild, is this the year TB finally plays like an old man, how bad will the Seahawks be, can McDaniels actually coach, are the Rams one and done. My prediction is the Bengals win the SB.

  9. With Kelce as the #1, Smith-Shuster will still draw some favorable match-ups. It’s hard to compare what he did with the Steelers (bad line play, aging quarterback, inability to run) with how he will fit on the Chiefs. Even if he maxes out this deal, it’s a bargain compared to where the market is going.

  10. KC you had your run, you should have had at least 1 more SB but you blew it. Welcome to cap hell. Sit back until next time.

  11. ogre4nerds says:
    March 24, 2022 at 11:20 am
    Regardless of whether he knew about Hill, Ju-Ju’s contract is a show-me/prove-it deal, from the team’s perspective. The real question is, can Smith-Schuster show the NFL that he’s worth top tier WR money. The team makes out like bandits unless they actually get to and win the Superbowl and Ju-Ju hits all his goals. Then, he’ll demand a lot, and the team will have to pay up or ship another good WR out the door. I love the prove-it contracts. So much drama. But, if you can hoist the trophy, it’ll all be worth it.
    —–

    At this point, I’d say that if the Chiefs can even make it back to another SB next year, they’ll probably and deservedly feel like bandits.

    The deck is being stacked against them, but the other teams in the AFC are tired of having KC kick sand in their faces for the last four years.

    AFC West has been getting mangled on the regular by Reid and Company.

  12. Chiefs aren’t dumb enough to make JuJu their #1. They’re gonna make a move with that draft capital they got from the Dolphins

  13. I didn’t break out my calculator or anything but it sounds like if he has the year he he last year it’s about $9M total. Not that bad but also not all that great in a market where Christian Kirk gets double that for multiple years. Who’s his agent?

  14. This is all intriguing, but…. Does anyone think KC is rolling with their current WR corps? Ya, me neither, settle down!

  15. Chiefs better draft defensively in the first couple rounds. They still have Kelce and Mahomes should be able to put up numbers with anyone, especially with the contract they gave him he should be able to do what Stafford did and elevate his receiver’s abilities.

  16. And if Juju thinks he’s not getting the ball enough, everyone is going to hear about it. Still surprised that KC signed this idiot.

  17. Lol…all you clowns continually beat the drum saying KC is in “cap hell”…you may wanna have a peekski at the cap room numbers….as of today, the Panthers are the ONLY team eith more cap space than KC. Sit down and shut up, no one here is better at running an NFL franchise than Veach.

  18. The key number is one year. If juju earns a big chunk of those incentives his contract the following year will look a lot different. Makes the structure look pretty good for Juju now that hill is gone.

  19. I don’t get the Steelers fans love for this guy. So, he lost his bicycle FIVE yrs ago and he danced on logos and he got national commercials he did not deserve etc etc etc. He fumbled in crucial situations numerous times, he has not improved since AB left, he is signing 1 yr contracts b/c nobody wants to commit to him, and he called the Steelers lockers “wooden” – not as a compliment. But he was “fun and cute”. Must be nice building a brand w/o any actual production or championships.

  20. He also pulls in an extra 15 bucks per Tik Tok video he produces. If he stays healthy he should make 7 to 9 million. Which right now I would say is about where he should be at. It’s a fair contract for both sides in my opinion.

  21. JuJu should have re-signed with the Steelers for that kind of money.
    Chiefs are getting very good value if JuJu remains healthy.

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