When the New England Patriots let Jakobi Meyers walk in free agency but signed JuJu Smith-Schuster to a similar contract, many people perceived the move as a trade-off between the two players.

Bill Belichick didn't see it that way though.

Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meeting in Arizona, Belichick was stern in saying that the Patriots didn't swap Meyers out for Smith-Schuster.

“It wasn't a trade,” Belichick said. “It wasn't planned out that way, it worked out that way.”

Even though Belichick said it wasn't a trade, it seems like he and the organization value Smith-Schuster more than Meyers. Meyers agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. That contract allowed an easy opt-out after the first season. One day later, the Patriots agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with Smith-Schuster.

It should be pointed out that Smith-Schuster's contract has a base value of $2.54 million. However, his contract doesn't have an out until after the 2024 season.

It's understandable why the Patriots might value Smith-Schuster more than Meyers though. Smith-Schuster has arguably been one of the game's best slot receivers since he entered the league in 2017. He posted a 111-catch season in 2018 and had 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns with the Kansas City Chiefs last season.

“Thought it was the best thing for the team,” Belichick said when asked why he opted to sign Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster has also sung Belichick's praises since joining the team. Smith-Schuster said Belichick was the reason he signed with the Patriots on Zolak and Bertrand.

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Belichick also viewed Smith-Schuster in high regard, obviously. “Good player, good guy, look forward to having him,” Belichick said.

Belichick Dishes on Other New Faces

Belichick also commented about the other players the Patriots signed so far this offseason. He recalled some matchups the Patriots had against the Miami Dolphins in recent seasons as why he's optimistic about Mike Gesicki.

“Tough guy to game-plan for. Hard to cover,” Belichick said. “I look forward to working with Mike, so we’ll see how it goes. He’s kind of a unique player, so hopefully we’ll be able to use him productively.”

Along the offensive line, the Patriots added offensive tackle Riley Reiff. Belichick seemed to like the versatility the 11-year pro brings.

“He’s been in the league for a long time,” Belichick said of Reiff. Very experienced guy, played multiple positions. Smart, tough guy. I’m glad we have him. … We’ll see [where he plays]. He’s played both [tackle spots]. He’s also played guard.”

As for running back James Robinson, Belichick seemed to be happy to add another quality player to the running back room.

“Productive player in Jacksonville and the Jets,” Belichick said of Robinson. “Gives us some depth in the backfield and see how it goes. I haven’t ever worked with him before, so I look forward to it.”

There are a lot of new faces in New England and only time will tell how they fit The Patriot Way.