The signings of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are two of the biggest high-profile signings the Patriots have made this off-season, improving their offense from last season. The New England Patriots haven't been shy in terms of spending money in free agency.
However, this Sunday, during an 11 vs11 practice scrimmage, Hunter Henry suffered a shoulder injury that will possibly have him sidelined from pre-season play for the foreseeable future. Although it's not a serious injury, he could miss large swathes of the remainder of the ongoing preseason.
The Patriots hope that signing Jonnu Smith will help their offense continue to move forward in the absence of their other new arrival. Here are three reasons why that's the case:
#1 2020 Stats
Jonnu Smith had one of his best seasons yet in 2020, helping the Tennessee Titans into the postseason for the third time in four seasons. Smith had 32 receptions for 448 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns.
Smith had over 400 receiving yards in 2019 but just three touchdowns, proving that he has gotten statistically better through his four years with the Titans. Smith coming off a career-high stats season in 2020 is good news for the New England Patriots as they look for a reliable asset in their offense.
#2 The need for a solid receiver
The Patriots have seen a significant decrease in production at the tight end position since the departure of Rob Gronkowski. Patriots tight ends have had some of the fewest receptions, yards and touchdowns in the entire NFL.
In terms of receivers as a whole, the Patriots lack depth at the position. And now, with the off-season retirement of Julian Edelman, the Patriots are without a dominant target for Cam Newton and possibly Mac Jones in the future. This is where Jonnu Smith could help the team.
#3 Reliable target downfield
In his four seasons in the NFL, Jonnu Smith has caught 67.5% of his passes. Last season, Cam Newton and the Patriots weren't able to make big plays because there was a lack of receiving options downfield; Smith should easily resolve that problem.
At 6' 3" and 248 lbs. he is a big tight end and a receiving and blocking threat. He's the type of tight end head coach Bill Belichick likes to play, and at just 25, Smith should be able to make an impact for the New England Patriots in the future too.