Entering his second offseason with the New England Patriots, tight end Jonnu Smith has decided to change his preparatory approach. After not participating in voluntary workouts last spring, Smith is reportedly planning to do so this year.
According to a report by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the 26-year-old is planning to spend the offseason in New England and participate fully in the workout program. He had stayed away last year while awaiting the birth of his daughter.
A third-round draft pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2017, Smith joined the Patriots last offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Signing a four-year, $50 million contract, the expectation was that he would take on a prominent role within New England’s new-look offense — one eventually led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
As opposed to fellow tight end addition Hunter Henry, however, Smith had a quiet first year in the Patriots’ system. Despite appearing in 17 out of 18 games and being on the field for 46.8 percent of offensive snaps, Smith caught only 28 passes for 294 yards and a single touchdown. He also gained 40 additional yards on nine carries, but his main contributions came as an in-line blocker in the running game.
Now entering his second season as a Patriot, Smith is seen as a potential breakout candidate. Needless to say, that the team would benefit from him successfully emerging as a more consistent contributor in the passing game.
On Monday, head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Smith during a press conference at the NFL annual meeting in Palm Springs but sidestepped the question.
“It’s a new year for all of us,” Belichick said.
As one of the teams with a returning head coach, the Patriots are allowed to kick off the first phase of offseason workouts on April 18.