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How the Patriots signing Jonnu Smith impacts the 2021 NFL Draft

Jonnu Smith New England Patriots

The New England Patriots signed free-agent tight end Jonnu Smith to a massive contract Monday, adding a high-end pass-catcher to an offense in desperate need of a playmaker.

The Patriots had long been a popular 2021 mock draft destination for Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, but the addition of Smith all but ends that as an option.

New England enjoyed success running two tight end sets several years ago with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, so there’s a chance Pitts could still be in play should he be on the board. But with such a big financial investment in Smith, it appears unlikely that they’ll double-dip at the position.

Smith enjoyed a career-year in 2020 with 41 catches for 448 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 starts. He’s still a player on the rise and with Cam Newton back with New England in 2021, Smith could end up being his favorite receiver and challenge all NFL tight ends for the most targets at the position next season.

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL