The Patriots have finally landed an impact player at tight end, one of their biggest positions of need for two years running.
Former Titans tight end Jonnu Smith agreed on Monday to sign a four-year deal with the Patriots worth $50 million and $31.25 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports. Smith is the early centerpiece of the Patriots’ moves on offense, a major pillar of an unprecedented day of free-agent spending for Bill Belichick. After day 1 of legal tampering, he projects as not just the clear No. 1 tight end but possibly the top weapon in the passing game. And he’s being paid accordingly. (Update: Now that the Patriots have also signed Hunter Henry, it’s unclear which one out of him and Smith would be the No. 1 tight end.)
Belichick has spoken glowingly of Smith for his ability as both a receiver and a blocker. The Patriots obviously valued Smith’s well-rounded skill set enough to aggressively target him with a deal close to the top of the market. His presence doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on the long-term outlook for the Patriots’ second-year tight ends, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. But it highlights a lack of serious investment in the position since drafting Gronkowski in 2010, and an urgency to add a playmaker while Asiasi and Keene’s development plays out over the next three seasons.
An ascending talent, the 25-year-old Smith should instantly change the complexion of the tight end room at Gillette Stadium. Here are five things you need to know about the Patriots’ new No. 1.
The Patriots may not be done adding weapons. Scroll down for some more potential free agency options at wide receiver.
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