The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots have made a trade according to Ian Rapoport.
“Sources: The Patriots are trading TE Jonnu Smith to the Falcons, as a former big-ticket free agent heads elsewhere and creates space for New England,” wrote Rapoport on Twitter. “It’s for a 7th rounder, source said. Arthur Smith lands an old friend.”
Smith was originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He started 13 games as a rookie and went on to start 72 games for the Titans in his four seasons.
His best year as a Titan was 2020 playing under then-offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. He had 41 catches for 448 yards and eight touchdowns.
Smith signed a 4-year, $50-million deal with the Patriots. He started 19 games the last two seasons and had 539 yards and just one touchdown in New England.
The Falcons pick up Smith’s contract and his $10-million base salary in 2023. He is due an $824K roster bonus this season making his current-cap hit $10.8 million according to Spotrac.
The Falcons hold a $12-million option in 2024, making Smith a prime candidate for a restructure if the Falcons think he has a future in Atlanta beyond 2023.
The addition of Smith should have little or no impact on Kyle Pitts who is scheduled to be healthy in time for the season. The Falcons run as much two-tight end sets as any team in the NFL, and Smith carried a 71.2 run blocking grade last year from Pro Football Focus.
The player who could be most impacted by the trade for Smith is likely MyCole Pruitt who played well for the Falcons after seeing his season ended by injury in 2021.
Pruitt is scheduled to be a free agent this week, but he was making just over $1-million last season and would be an excellent option to bring back as a third-tight end.
Atlanta had the second-most salary cap space available heading into free agency. This will put a dent in what they have for 2023 going from $64 million to $53 million (still good for No. 2), but again don’t be surprised if the Falcons restructure Smith’s contract and lower his 2023 cap hit.
The Falcons have been exceedingly quiet leading up to the free agency period, but they just made their first relatively big move.
There will be plenty more to come.