New England Patriots Restructure Tight End's Contract, Clear Cap Space

The New England Patriots have adjusted the contract of one of last year's big free agent splashes. ESPN's Field Yates reports the team has restructured the contract of tight end Jonnu Smith:

The move clears $5.31 million in cap space for the 2022 season but increases his 2023 and 2024 cap hits by $2.655 million each year. The move comes as a bit of a surprise considering Smith was seen as a disappointment in his first year with the team, stumbling to a 59.3 Pro Football Focus grade and a paltry 18.4 yards per game and 6.5 yards per target across his 16 appearances. The restructure increases the dead money expense should Smith be cut in future seasons, arguably deepening the team's commitment to him.

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Smith came to the Patriots as a free agent after playing out his rookie contract with the Tennessee Titans. He caught 887 yards for 8.1 yards per target across his final two years with the Titans, and the Patriots saw fit to make him one of the league's highest-paid tight ends during the 2021 free agency period. His first year with the Patriots was his least productive since his rookie season in yards per game and yards per target, but the team must believe that a new offensive regime can help him reestablish his value.  

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