What Jonnu Smith’s Reported Restructure Means For Patriots

The move gives New England some financial flexibility


September 2

The New England Patriots freed up some necessary salary cap space Friday.

Three days after finalizing their initial 53-man roster, the Patriots restructured tight end Jonnu Smith’s contract, ESPN’s Field Yates reported.

New England converted $7.965 million of Smith’s salary into a bonus, per Yates’ report, reducing the Patriots’ cap number by $5.31 million.

The Patriots weren’t in dire financial straits — they entered Friday with just over $4 million in cap space, per OverTheCap — but needed additional room to account for the inevitable roster moves that will take place over the course of the season.

Smith did not live up to his contract value in Year 1 of the four-year, $50 million deal he signed last March, but he’s shown signs of a potential bounce-back campaign. The former Tennessee Titan was a full participant throughout the spring and summer and was one of quarterback Mac Jones’ favorite targets in training camp.

After removing the fullback position from their offense, the Patriots are expected to use much more two-tight end personnel this season, playing Smith and Hunter Henry together more frequently than they did in 2021. New England also made tweaks to its scheme aimed at maximizing Smith’s skill set. The 27-year-old thrives in catch-and-run situations, ranking third in the NFL and first among tight ends in yards after catch per reception even in his largely disappointing first season as a Patriot.

Friday’s restructure will increase Smith’s cap hits in future seasons.

Smith and Henry were the only tight ends to earn spots on the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster, with Matt Sokol and Jalen Wydermyer landing on the practice squad.

The Patriots will open the regular season next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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