The Atlanta Falcons have traded a 2023 seventh round pick (pick No. 245) to the New England Patriots for tight end Jonnu Smith, sources told ESPN on Monday, confirming multiple reports.
Smith signed with New England in 2021 after spending the first four years of his career with the Tennessee Titans, where now-Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was the tight ends coach and then the offensive coordinator.
Jonnu Smith had signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Patriots in March of 2021, which included $31.25 million guaranteed. According to Roster Management System, Smith had cap hits of $17,228,529 in 2023 and $18,405,000 in 2024 with New England.
Sources said that Smith’s contract will be reworked as part of the deal.
But he never found his groove in New England. In his first season with the team, he played in 16 games (11 starts) and totaled 28 receptions for 294 yards with one touchdown. Last season, he played in 14 games (8 starts) and had 27 catches for 245 yards and no touchdowns.
The Patriots have veteran Hunter Henry and developmental prospects Matt Sokol and Scotty Washington at tight end, which becomes a greater need for them in the draft or free agency. Henry enters the final year of his contract in 2023. The move creates about $4.4 million in salary-cap space for the Patriots.
Smith has played in 90 career games, starting 72 of them, with 169 catches for 1,841 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was especially productive with the Titans, where he had the best two years of his career, including a 41-catch, 448-yard, eight touchdown season in 2020. He could be in line for a similar role in Atlanta as he had in Tennessee.
Smith now becomes part of a tight end room featuring 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts, who is coming off season-ending knee surgery in 2022.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.