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2021 NFL free agency: Patriots sign tight end Jonnu Smith to four-year, $50 million contract

Related: Patriots free agency tracker: News, rumors, signings, instant analysis

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One hour into the NFL’s legal tampering period, the New England Patriots made their first big splash: as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots and free agent tight end Jonnu Smith have agreed to join forces on a four-year, $50 million contract.

New England, of course, has struggled at the tight end position ever since Rob Gronkowski left the team after the 2018 season. While two third-round draft choices were invested in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene last spring, Smith gives the Patriots something they have not had the last two years: a proven commodity with plenty of upside as a dynamic pass catcher and blocker in both the running and passing game.

Smith originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick in 2017, and has 66 combined regular season and playoff games on his résumé. While his raw numbers may not jump off the page — he has caught just 125 passes for 1,389 yards and 17 touchdowns — his versatility and reliability have made him one of the top tight ends to enter this market this year.

The Patriots, who entered free agency week among the league leaders in salary cap space, did not take long before bringing the 25-year-old aboard.


How would you grade the Patriots’ decision to sign Jonnu Smith?

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