Falcons Acquire Veteran Tight End from Bills: Report

Lee Smith

Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images Lee Smith of the Buffalo Bills warms up before a game against the New England Patriots on November 01, 2020.

The Atlanta Falcons have yet to sign an unrestricted free agent this year, but they have executed a trade.

According to Adam Schefter, senior NFL insider for ESPN, the Buffalo Bills have traded tight end Lee Smith to the Falcons for an unspecified late-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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It’s the second year in a row that the Falcons have traded for a tight end. In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago that Atlanta acquired Hayden Hurst from the Baltimore Ravens.

Yet Smith—6-foot-6 and 265 pounds—has a different skill set than Hurst. He hasn’t caught more than a dozen passes in any of his ten years in the league, and he has never had more than three touchdown catches in any year. Yet he is a dependable blocker and can contribute on special teams. As such he will likely fill a similar role to the one that has been played (of late) by Luke Stocker.

Lee Smith is a Former Fifth-Round Pick

Smith entered the NFL in 2011 as a fifth-round pick of the New England Patriots (No. 159 overall), having played his college football at Marshall University.

But he was waived by the Patriots prior to the start of the 2011 regular season and picked up on waivers by the Bills, where he toiled for four years before moving on to the Oakland Raiders. Then in 2019 he returned to the Bills, where he played the past two seasons. Yet he saw his playing time diminish in Buffalo last year, as he appeared in ten games (two starts) and played just 16 percent of the snaps on offense and 17 percent of the snaps on special teams.

Over the course of his career he has played in 133 games with 73 starts, totaling 64 receptions for 458 yards (7.2 yards per reception) and ten touchdowns.

Smith Has a Total Cap Number of $2.25 Million in 2021

As for the financial implications of trading for Smith … he’s working on a three-year $9 million contract that he signed in 2019. According to overthecap.com, he is scheduled to earn a salary of $1.9 million in 2021 and his contract also includes a $100,000 workout bonus. He is scheduled to receive a $250,000 roster bonus on the 5th day of the league year (circa March 22nd), which helps explain the timing of the trade. His total cap number for 2021 is $2.25 million.

Smith joins a tight end room that now features the aforementioned Hurst, as well as Jaeden Graham, the latter an exclusive rights free agent who recently re-upped with the Falcons for another year. The trade for Smith makes it almost a certainty that Stocker will not be returning to the Falcons.

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