Heading into his seventh NFL season, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster could very well be set to play for a third future Hall of Fame coach.
And it's the chance to play for Bill Belichick that was a driving force in Smith-Schuster signing with the New England Patriots this offseason.
"To be honest, it was Belichick, man," Smith-Schuster told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak and Bertrand on Tuesday, on why he chose to become a Patriot. "Just the want and the need. And, you know, the position that I can fill there really, really, really caught my attention. And I felt that like that was the [biggest] thing, feeling wanted in a place where I've played against a head coach I have a lot of respect for. And I just think that that goes a long way."
Once he takes the field for Belichick, Smith-Schuster will have played for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, the Kansas City Chiefs' Andy Reid and the all-time Super Bowl-winningest coach. All three are likely to one day be enshrined within the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Belichick has won six Super Bowls with the Patriots and over his time with New England and the Cleveland Browns has piled up 329 wins (including playoffs), which is second in league history.
As for Tomlin, who drafted Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he's been to two Super Bowls and won one, while putting together a league-record 16 seasons without a losing campaign to start his career.
Smith-Schuster is coming off a season in which he won a Super Bowl with Reid. The man affectionately known as "Big Red" won his second Super Bowl and is the only NFL head coach to have won 10 or more playoff games with multiple teams.
Now, Smith-Schuster, who won a Super Bowl with Reid and went to a Pro Bowl under Tomlin, has a chance to add to his career highlights and Belichick's legacy.
"The tradition was always there," Smith-Schuster said. "I've always had respect for the Patriots."
Smith-Schuster, who posted 78 receptions for 933 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2022 with Kansas City, joined the Pats on a three-year, $33 million pact. There could be more additions to a WR room that includes DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne, but Smith-Schuster will certainly play a major role in helping quarterback Mac Jones rebound from a struggle-filled second season.
So far, Smith-Schuster likes what he's seen from the young QB.
"That dude loves, breathes New England. He's the definition of a Patriot," Smith-Schuster said of Jones. "Even in my short time, like my 24 hours to be in New England, he was there constantly working out with the guys, just getting after it, getting it in the books.
"He was a rookie Pro Bowler, so the dude has a lot of potential. I can't wait to get right with him."
The Patriots haven't won a playoff game since Super Bowl LIII to end the 2018 season and have finished below .500 in two of their last three campaigns. But Belichick's past successes still hold weight among NFL players -- at least in the eyes of one new Patriot.