Before making any free agency moves, the Atlanta Falcons traded the Buffalo Bills for tight end Lee Smith. In return, Atlanta gave New York a 2022 NFL Draft seventh-round pick.
Unlike Hayden Hurst, Smith didn’t agree to come to Atlanta to reel in touchdowns and put points on the board. Instead, his top priority is blocking and protecting Matt Ryan.
“I like having my hand in the dirt and partying with the offensive linemen,” Smith said via Atlanta Falcons’ official website. “I’m the run game guy, I’m in there to make sure the other teams don’t hit the running back or Matt Ryan.”
The Falcons’ offensive line could use a guy like Smith after Ryan was sacked 41 last season.
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Lee Smith’s NFL Career Thus Far
Smith, 33, entered the league in 2011 as a fifth-round pick of the New England Patriots (No. 159 overall), a college product from Marshall University.
Prior to the 2011 season, Smith was waived by the Patriots and picked up on waivers by the Bills, where he played for four years before moving on to the Oakland Raiders. He eventually returned to the Bills in 2019, where he played the past two seasons.
The veteran appeared in ten games with 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, Smith has played in 133 games with 73 starts, totaling 64 receptions for 458 yards (7.2 yards per reception) and ten touchdowns.
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What Excited Lee Smith About Coming to Atlanta?
The Falcons have a new head coach in Arthur Smith and a new general manager in Terry Fontenot, which means they’re in the midst of a major rebuilding phase. While that can be seen as a negative to some, Smith is optimistic.
“I don’t look at it as a no-hope rebuild,” said Smith told reporters. “That’s just not the way I look at it. Not with the talent on this roster and the success that they’ve had with so many of the same guys that are still on this roster.”
While Arthur Smith was offensive coordinator at the Titans, four tight ends played more than 200 snaps last season to help with run blocking and pass protection.
To say the least, Lee (Smith) is excited about his new role in Atlanta and helping the team in the “rebuilding process” get back to their winning ways as a Super Bowl contender.
“I’m super excited to help Matt (Ryan) and Arthur (Smith) get this thing back to the way they want it,” Smith said. “Back to the point where the Atlanta community can’t wait for Sundays and home games.”