Bill Belichick is never shy about praising opponents, and now one of those once-praised opponents is joining the New England Patriots.
The Patriots reportedly agreed Monday to a four-year, $50 million contract with tight end Jonnu Smith. Smith, 25, immediately becomes New England’s No. 1 tight end and possibly the team’s best pass-catcher.
Belichick has not yet commented on the addition of Smith — the deal won’t be official until the new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET — but the Patriots head coach did praise Smith when the tight end was a member of the Tennessee Titans.
“He’s just a really good tight end,” Belichick said last January, as transcribed by NESN.com’s Doug Kyed. “He can do a lot of things: blocks well, runs well, is a good receiver. I mean, hell, they played him at tailback. He looked pretty good back there. So, he’s a very athletic player, hard to tackle, catches the ball well. He’s great after the catch — probably the best in the league. I mean, I can’t imagine anybody better than him after the catch. No, he looks like a tight end to me. And a good one.”
The 6-foot-3, 248-pound Smith is coming off his best NFL season. He caught 41 passes for 448 yards with eight touchdowns for the Titans in 2020. Smith has 114 catches for 1,302 yards with 16 touchdowns in his first four NFL campaigns.
Smith joins a Patriots tight end depth chart that includes 2020 third-round picks Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene along with veterans Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse. He was arguably the most complete tight end on the open market and reportedly New England’s favorite free-agent pass-catcher.