The Patriots definitely have money to burn.
Entering the start of free agency with the third-most cap space in the NFL, the Patriots made a major investment at tight end by signing Jonnu Smith to a four-year deal worth $50 million, including $31.25 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
It’s an eye-popping contract negotiated by super-agent Drew Rosenhaus for Smith, who never had more than 450 receiving yards in any of his four seasons with the Titans. Then again, the Patriots haven’t had a tight end with more than 199 receiving yards in either of the two seasons since Rob Gronkowski’s first retirement.
There is belief around the NFL that Smith is a player on the rise about to break out, but that contract gives him the highest average annual salary ($12.5 million) for an offensive skill player in Patriots’ history, ahead of Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski.
It is the most guaranteed money at signing among tight ends and only George Kittle has more total guaranteed money ($40 million) in his contract. Smith is ahead of the much-more accomplished Travis Kelce, who re-signed just last year, Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper.
Smith, 25, emerged as a red-zone threat for the Titans last season, when he had eight of his 16 career touchdown catches. He averages 11.4 yards per catch over a four-year career.
The Patriots are far from done. They also agreed to a two-year deal with former Dolphins nose tackle Davon Godchaux worth up to $16 million, according to ESPN. New England is expected to address pass-rusher and wide receiver, two strengths of the free-agent market.