Patriots Reportedly Trade Jonnu Smith To Falcons In Salary Dump

Smith's signing will go down as one of Bill Belichick's worst


Mar 13, 2023

The Patriots reportedly are offloading the most regrettable signing from their 2021 free agent class.

New England on Monday agreed to trade tight end Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2023 seventh-round draft pick, according to multiple reports.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report the impending deal, which cannot be finalized until the new league year opens at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The four-year, $50 million contract Smith signed two years ago will be remembered as a major whiff for New England, as will the restructuring of his deal the team initiated last offseason. In 30 games for the Patriots, the 27-year-old totaled just 55 receptions for 539 yards and one touchdown. He’ll now reunite with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who was his tight ends coach and later offensive coordinator in Tennessee.

By trading Smith, who was set to carry a $17.2 million cap hit for the 2023 season, the Patriots will clear $4.4 million in salary cap space but take on $12.8 million in dead money, per Over The Cap. The move also means New England will likely add at least one tight end this offseason, as Hunter Henry and practice squadders Matt Sokol and Scotty Washington are the only remaining members of that position group.

That addition could come through the 2023 NFL Draft, which boasts a deep and talented tight end class. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid and Georgia’s Darnell Washington are viewed as potential first-round prospects, while Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta, South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft, Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker and Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz are intriguing options later on.’s first Patriots mock draft had New England using a fourth-round pick on LaPorta, whose offensive coordinator at Iowa was former Patriots tight ends coach Brian Ferentz.

Veteran tight ends hitting free agency this week include Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, Austin Hooper, Robert Tonyan, Foster Moreau, Irv Smith and Jordan Akins. Akins played for new Patriots OC Bill O’Brien with the Houston Texans.

Henry, whose cap hit for 2023 is $15.5 million, caught nine touchdown passes in his first season with the Patriots but regressed in 2022, as did most of New England’s offensive weapons under the direction of play-caller Matt Patricia. He posted a 41-509-2 receiving line in 17 games, averaging his fewest catches and yards per game since his rookie year.

Sokol and Washington both have yet to catch a regular-season NFL pass.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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