Acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots, tight end Jonnu Smith is an athletic tight end with big wide receiver skills who never lived up to his big contract. In what was basically a salary-cap dump by Bill Belichick and the Patriots, it only took a seventh-round pick to land Smith.
That could end up being a big addition for the Falcons who were able to get Smith to rework his contract to more team-friendly money in 2023. Furthermore, the move gives Jonnu Smith a real opportunity to make an impact in the Falcons offense like what he was with the Tennessee Titans.
Atlanta Falcons simply a better fit for Jonnu Smith
Prior to signing with the Patriots, Smith was coming off two consecutive seasons of 30-plus catches and 400-plus receiving yards. In 2020, he hauled in eight touchdowns passes. Those weren’t All-Pro numbers, but the upside of Jonnu Smith made him one of the top free agents in 2021 when he signed with a Patriots team that was starving for tight end production.
Unfortunately, Smith never took off in New England. Part of the reason was the Patriots didn’t know how to use him. Playing alongside Hunter Henry, the Patriots lined him up in different formations, which included in the backfield, but again, New England couldn’t find ways to utilize Smith’s skill in the open field.
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Was that due to the player or the playbook?
Whether it was one or the other, Jonnu Smith will get a renewed opportunity with the Falcons, especially with Pitts, Drake London and 2023 first-round pick Bijan Robinson leading the offense. As the second tight end, Smith should see more opportunities as the Falcons have one of the more versatile offensive personnel’s in the NFL when you add in Cordarrelle Patterson.
Add in the fact that Arthur Smith coached Jonnu Smith when both were with the Titans and there’s an increased chance the 27-year-old tight end becomes more of the player the Patriots thought they were getting.
In all, the Falcons are taking a shot with Smith, but it is a shot that can turn into gold. The athleticism and ability to make contested catches gives the Falcons another target when teams are locked in on Pitts and London or stacking the box to stop Robinson.
With less pressure, NFL Mocks is predicting a season of redemption for Jonnu Smith in a Falcons offense more suited for his skillset. It should be an interestingly fun season in the ATL.