Michael RothsteinESPN staff writer2 minutes to read
The Atlanta Falcons traded a 2023 quarterback in the seventh round (No. 245) to the New England Patriots for tight end Jono Smith, sources told ESPN Monday, confirming multiple reports.
Smith signed with New England in 2021 after spending the first four years of his career with the Tennessee Titans, now Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is the team’s tight ends coach and then offensive coordinator.
Jono Smith had signed a four-year, $50 million contract extension with the Patriots in March 2021, which included a guaranteed $31.25 million. According to ESPN’s roster management system, Smith had a maximum cap of $17,228,529 in 2023 and $18,405,000 in 2024 with New England.
Sources said Smith’s contract would 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 1 touchdown. Last season, he played in 14 games (eight starts) and caught 27 catches for 245 yards and no touchdowns.
The Patriots have veteran Hunter Henry and development prospects Matt Sokol and Scottie Washington at tight end, a position that has become New England’s greatest need in the draft or free agency. Henry enters the final year of his contract in 2023. The move creates about $4.4 million in Patriots salary cap space.
Smith played in 90 career games, starting 72, with 169 catches for 1,841 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s been particularly productive with the Titans, with whom he spent the best two years of his career, including a 41-catch season, 448 yards, 8 touchdowns in 2020. He could be in line for a similar role at Atlanta to the one he had at Tennessee.
Smith became part of a tight end room that includes 2021 first-round draft pick Kyle Bates, who will be coming off season-ending knee surgery in 2022.
ESPN’s Mike Reese contributed to this report.
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