Jonnu Smith

Jets Made A Push For TE Jonnu Smith

The Jets watched the division-rival Patriots embark on an uncharacteristic spending spree this month, and at least one of New England’s shiny new toys was a New York target. Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via ESPN colleague Rich Cimini), the Jets made a push for former Titans tight end Jonnu Smith, who wound up signing a whopping four-year, $50MM deal with the Pats.

Jets GM Joe Douglas has shown restraint when it comes to handing out big-money deals to FAs. He has established a pattern of sticking to his price for a particular player, and given that Smith’s deal was larger than most in the industry expected, it’s not terribly surprising that Douglas did not outbid Bill Belichick for the 25-year-old TE.

Douglas was able to add a couple of new receivers — Corey Davis and Keelan Cole — for whoever will be under center when Week 1 rolls around, but tight end is still a weak spot. Chris Herndon, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, underperformed in 2020, and while the Jets did sign Tyler Kroft in free agency, he is hardly the playmaking talent that teams are looking for at the position these days. Plus, outside of Kyle Pitts, this year’s rookie class of TEs is rather thin. And unless the Jets elect to keep Sam Darnold and use the No. 2 overall pick on Pitts — or a lower selection if they trade down a couple of spots — it will be difficult to find an upgrade in the draft.

Still, there is encouraging news for Jets fans. According to Cimini, new head coach Robert Saleh has made his club a much more attractive destination for free agents, who used to choose Gang Green simply when the team overpaid.

In speaking about his choice to join the Jets, Davis said, “[i]t starts with Coach Saleh. He’s the right guy to come in here and turn things around. That’s what I believe. That’s why I came here. I believe his message and I believe what he brings to the table. He brings great energy, you can tell. It’ll be great to play for a guy like that.”

Money will still be the deciding factor in most cases, but having a charismatic HC who can connect with players will only help the Jets’ cause when it comes to attracting outside talent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Patriots, Moseley, Golden, Bills, Hyde

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

  • LB Matt Judon, Patriots: $18MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $11MM (2022), $11MM (2023), $9.5MM (2024). Up to $1MM in per-game roster bonuses, $500K All-Pro incentive between 2022 and 2024. Via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter.
  • TE Jonnu Smith, Patriots: $15MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $9MM (2022), $10MM (2023), $11MM (2024). Up to $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Via Yates on Twitter.
  • CB Emmanuel Moseley, 49ers: $500K per-game active roster bonus in 2022. Up to $750K play-time base salary escalator in 2022. Via Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson on Twitter.
  • LB Markus Golden, Cardinals: two years, $5MM, $2.5MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021, guaranteed), $2MM (2022). Up to $250K in annual per-game roster bonuses, up to $2MM in annual sack incentives. Via Wilson on Twitter.
  • OT Daryl Williams, Bills: $13.75MM guaranteed, $5.4MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM (2021), $6.725MM (2022), $5.475MM (2023). $3MM roster bonus in 2021, $1.25MM roster bonus in 2023. Per-game roster bonuses: $250K (2021), $300K (2022-2023). $100K annual workout bonuses. $2.2MM in additional annual incentives. Via Yates on Twitter.
  • RB Carlos Hyde, Jaguars: Two years, $4.5MM. $1.25MM base salary in 2021 is fully guaranteed. $900K signing bonus. Via TheMMQB’s Albert Breer on Twitter.

Patriots Sign TE Jonnu Smith

One of the top tight ends on the market is off the board. The Patriots have agreed to terms on a deal with free agent Jonnu Smith, his agent Drew Rosenhaus told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s a big one, as Smith is getting a whopping $50MM over four years with $31.25MM guaranteed. What a way for New England to kick off free agency, and it’s one of the biggest investments Bill Belichick has made in a skill position player in years. Tight end was a clear need for the Pats this offseason, as the team got virtually nothing from the position in 2020. Ryan Izzo led the team’s tight ends with 13 catches for 199 yards and no touchdowns. They haven’t really gotten anything out of it since Rob Gronkowski walked away.

A third-round pick of the Titans in 2017, Smith never truly broke out but flashed a lot of potential during his four years in Tennessee. Stuck behind Delanie Walker for his first couple pro seasons, Smith had his best year yet in 2020.

In 15 games and 14 starts, he had 41 catches for 448 yards and an impressive eight touchdowns. He’ll now be catching passes from Cam Newton, or whoever else Belichick brings in under center. If your team is still looking for a tight end don’t worry, solid options like Hunter Henry, Kyle Rudolph, and Jared Cook are still all on the market.

As Doug Kyed of NESN.com was quick to tweet, Belichick lavished Smith in praise a little over a year ago, calling him the best tight end in the league after the catch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Franchise Tag Roundup: Dupree, Seahawks, Bengals

Despite some whispers of a potential delay, the deadline for teams to place franchise tags on impending free agents was today at 5 p.m. CT. While a handful of players learned that they were slapped with the tag, a number of players naturally learned that they’ll be entering unrestricted free agency. We collected some of those notable players below:

  • The Steelers decided to not tag Bud Dupree, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The linebacker was hit with the tag last offseason. The former first rounder had another strong season for Pittsburgh, compiling eight sacks in only 11 games.
  • A pair of popular Seahawks players didn’t get franchised: running back Chris Carson (per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter) and cornerback Shaquill Griffin (per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). The team is planning to (at least) make a pursuit at retaining Griffin, per Rapoport.
  • The Bengals didn’t franchise pass rusher Carl Lawson, per Rapoport (on Twitter). The former fourth rounder has collected 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons, with Rapoport opining that the lineman is “one of the NFL’s most underrated players” heading into free agency.
  • The Lions decided to not franchise Romeo Okwara, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). The 25-year-old had a breakout season in Detroit, setting career-highs in tackles (44) and sacks (10).
  • Despite leading the Cardinals with 12.5 sacks last season, Arizona didn’t franchise linebacker Haason Reddick (according to Schefter on Twitter). The former first-rounder also set career-highs in QB hits (16) and tackles for loss (15).
  • The Titans didn’t franchise tight end Jonnu Smith, per Schefter on Twitter. The 25-year-old has shown flashes during his brief NFL career, including a 2020 campaign where he set career-highs in receptions (41), receiving yards (448), and touchdowns (eight).

As a reminder, here are the players who have reportedly been tagged over the past 48 hours:

Titans GM On Isaiah Wilson, Offseason

We already talked about how Titans GM Jon Robinson confirmed the team had made contact with J.J. Watt‘s reps this morning, but there were some more interesting nuggets to come out of Robinson’s press conference.

For starters, Robinson talked about perhaps the biggest mistake of the 2020 NFL Draft, Isaiah Wilson. Tennessee drafted the offensive tackle 29th overall last April, but he played only four snaps as a rookie. After getting drafted, Wilson was arrested for DUI, received a trespass warning for attending a party at Tennessee State and twice landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. He was suspended for Week 13 for a violation of team rules and then was placed on the reserve/NFI list in December shortly after finally making his NFL debut.

Robinson revealed on Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken with Wilson since placing him on the NFI list, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. Robinson said others had been in some degree of contact with the first-rounder, but he didn’t sound particularly optimistic about his future with the team. “He is going to have to make a determination on if he wants to do everything necessary to play pro football,” Robinson said bluntly.

Wilson only just turned 22 last week so he’s got time to figure it out, but it sure sounds like the Titans won’t be counting on the Georgia product for 2021. Meanwhile, Robinson seemed to indicate there’s a good chance receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith could walk in free agency.

Robinson said he had the same conversation with those two guys that he did with tackle Jack Conklin last year, saying the team “will make competitive offer, but wishes them the best if they opt for free agency,” Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. Conklin, of course, left for the Browns in free agency. Davis, the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft, is set to be a free agent since Robinson elected to decline his fifth-year option last May. Davis responded with a resurgent season, racking up a career-high 984 yards in only 14 games. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of offers he gets on the open market.

 Finally, Robinson acknowledged that pass-rushing help was needed in one form or another. “It’s something that’s high on our list – to find guys, whatever position it is defensively – that can affect the quarterback,” he said. Tennessee ranked 30th this past year with only 19 sacks. That would certainly explain the interest in Watt.

Titans Unsure About Extensions For Jonnu Smith, Others

Historically, the Titans have a point to lock up key players before they can leave via free agency. Taylor Lewan and Kevin Byard both landed extensions well in advance, but the ongoing uncertainty may leave players like tight end Jonnu Smith in limbo, GM Jon Robinson says. 

I’m a big analogy guy,” Robinson told Paul Kuharsky. “It’s no different than if I was if I was working for Pepsi or Coke, and I knew that we weren’t going to have as many sales. …You wouldn’t go out and buy a new house.

I don’t know what that’s going to look like. It’s something that we will certainly talk about. You know, we’ve talked to the players and the reps. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now with everything, and I would say certainly with the salary cap too, because we’ve got to be mindful. What you don’t want to do is do something and then you’ve got to undo it or try to unpack it a year, two years from now, given the uncertainty of the salary cap.”

Smith isn’t the only notable player entering his walk year. Linebacker Jayon Brown and nose tackle DaQuan Jones also have one season to go on their respective deals, but they could be left to wait as the Titans try to get a grip on their future finances. The league is facing a potential $4 billion loss in revenue, which would shrink the cap by about 35%. The NFL has pitched the idea of putting a portion of player salaries into escrow to avoid a dramatic drop, but the union is pushing back.

Smith was mostly been as a blocker in his early years, but he flashed his hands last year. The 24-year-old (25 in August) caught 35 passes for 439 yards and three scores, giving the Titans a glimpse of what could come. The former third-round pick is slated to count for just $933K this year and he’s in line for a pay bump in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans TE Jonnu Smith Done For Year

Titans tight end Jonnu Smith is going to miss the rest of the season with an MCL injury, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Smith, 23, went down while blocking for Derrick Henry on his historic 99-yard touchdown run and the injury proved to be serious. He’ll be placed on injured reserve this week in order to open up a spot on the roster.

Smith has largely been utilized as a blocker in Tennessee, though he has flashed his hands on occasion. In a November loss to the Colts, Smith had six grabs for 44 yards. He also scored three touchdowns during the month of November. His season ends with 20 catches for 258 yards and three TDs,

Smith, a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, has two more years to go on his rookie contract. He’s scheduled to count for $845K next season and $933K in 2020, the final year of his deal.

The Titans kept their playoff hopes alive with Thursday’s win, thanks in large part to an all-time great performance from Henry. They currently have a 27% chance of reaching the postseason, according to Five Thirty Eight, with a pair of winnable matchups on deck against the Giants and Redskins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/16/17

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • The Titans have signed third-round tight end Jonnu Smith, the club announced today. Tennessee has now signed five of its nine-man draft class. Heading into the draft, Smith was often compared to the tight end he’ll now be playing behind with the Titans, veteran Delanie Walker. Smith, who should earn roughly $3.1MM over the life of his four-year rookie deal, has a clear path to playing time in Tennessee, as the only other tight ends on the roster aside from Walker are Jace Amaro and Phillip Supernaw.
  • The Jets announced that they’ve signed fourth-round wide receiver Chad Hansen. A Cal product, Hansen is now the fourth Jets rookie to ink a contract. After posting more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior campaign, Hansen joins a wide open Gang Green depth chart at wideout. With Eric Decker coming off injury and still a release candidate, and Robby Anderson facing legal trouble, Hansen could contribute early in his rookie season.
  • The Jaguars have agreed to terms with fifth-round linebacker Blair Brown, the club announced today. While Jacksonville already boasts three starting linebackers in Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, and Telvin Smith, the latter two are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next spring. Brown, then, gives the Jaguars insurance at the position, and will likely serve as a high-end reserve in 2017. Heading into the draft, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com praised Brown’s “short area burst” and ability to “drop into space.”
  • The Dolphins announced that they’ve signed fifth-round defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. Miami was known to be searching for a rotational tackle to play behind Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips, and Goxchaux now figures to play that role. Godchaux, an LSU product, is the sixth member of the Dolphins’ draft class to get under contract — only first-rounder Charles Harris remains unsigned.
  • The Seahawks have signed sixth-round defensive back Mike Tyson, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Tyson, a Cincinnati product, is expected to be used as a cornerback in Seattle after playing safety at the collegiate level.