New England Patriots

(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The details are now in on the first big contract the Patriots signed in free agency, tight end Jonnu Smith. Although Smith’s four-year, $50 million deal sounded hefty at the time, there are elements in it that can certainly be defined as team friendly.

Of the $31.25 million that’s guaranteed in the deal, there’s just a $1 million base salary in the first year. That keeps his 2021 cap number down at a very manageable $5.69 this season.

In the second year of the contract, Smith’s cap hit jumps to $13.75, eventually increasing to $15.75 in 2024. However, the league’s salary cap number is projected to boom in the next year or two, which would lessen the impact of those number. By backloading the deal, the Patriots are set to take advantage of such a spike in the future, while still giving themselves room to maneuver in the present.

After the third year of the deal, there is a relatively realistic out for the Patriots, with just $3.75 in dead cap. That also could set up an extension if things go well – Smith will be 29 years old entering that season.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at