After two underwhelming seasons with the New England Patriots, tight end Jonnu Smith has been traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a seventh-round pick. Smith, who was signed to a four-year, $50 million deal in 2021, was unable to find his footing in Foxborough, failing to go over 300 yards receiving in the past two seasons and scoring only one touchdown.
For Smith, this trade represents a fresh start with a familiar face. The 27-year-old will reunite with his former tight ends coach and offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, who is now the head coach of the Falcons. Smith enjoyed the most productive seasons of his career in Tennessee under Arthur Smith’s tutelage, and the Falcons are hoping he can recapture that form as a complement to former first-rounder Kyle Pitts.
In 2020, Smith had a career year, catching 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns under Arthur Smith’s guidance. While he struggled in New England, there is reason to believe that he can get back on track with his former coach in Atlanta.
The Falcons are expected to rework Smith’s contract, which currently counts $17.2 million against their salary cap for 2023. This move frees up $4.4 million in cap space for the Patriots, who are cutting their losses after one of the worst signings of Bill Belichick’s tenure.
While a seventh-round pick is hardly the compensation the Patriots were hoping for, this trade does allow them to gain some salary cap space, which could be used to bolster their roster in free agency. Smith, on the other hand, will be looking to prove that he still has what it takes to be a productive tight end in the NFL.
If Smith can come anywhere close to his production under Arthur Smith in Tennessee, he could be a strong No. 2 option behind Kyle Pitts for the Falcons. The trade is a low-risk move for Atlanta, who are giving up a late-round pick to see if a change of scenery and a reunion with his former coach can help Smith recapture his form.
As the Falcons look to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season, the addition of Jonnu Smith could be a significant piece of their offensive puzzle. Keep an eye on this reunion in Atlanta to see if Smith can rejuvenate his career under the guidance of his former coach.