Patriots ‘Would Love to Erase’ $50 Million Pass Catcher’s Contract

New England Patriots

Getty New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith

The New England Patriots made a lot of splashes in the 2021 offseason and one of them has failed to work out so far, now entering the 2023 offseason.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay wrote about how New England “would love to erase” Jonnu Smith’s $50 million contract.

“Following several seasons with one of the most underwhelming tight end rooms in the league, the New England Patriots made some splashy moves during the 2021 offseason to patch up the position,” Kay wrote. “The club splurged on a pair of proven veterans in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, acquisitions that seemed to give the Pats their best one-two punch at tight end in a decade.

“That potential was never realized, however, as the past two seasons have been filled with uninspiring tight end play in Foxborough,” Kay added.

In two seasons with the Patriots, Smith has tallied 55 receptions for 539 yards and just one touchdown per Pro Football Reference.

Jonnu Smith’s Contract Makes it Difficult for Patriots to Move Him

If the Patriots did want to move on from Smith, it would be difficult for New England to simply cut him or even trade him.

“Smith would be a prime cut candidate if not for the way his deal was structured,” Kay wrote. “His cap hit is over $17 million, but the team would incur a dead-cap hit of more than $19 million by releasing him. While the Patriots could get rid of their ineffective tight end by making him a post-June 1 release, the team can only designate two players to cut after that date and would only save a shade over $3.6 million by choosing Smith as one of them.

“Trading Smith would be a more palatable option—doing so on June 2 or later would save more than $10 million—but it’s hard to imagine much of a market materializing for the six-year veteran after his lackluster performances,” Kay added.

Besides the contract, New England could afford to get rid of Smith. Hunter Henry has had more success with the Patriots as he has racked up 91 receptions for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns per Pro Football Reference.

Iowa LB Jack Campbell Linked to New England Patriots

The 2023 NFL draft is inching closer and according to Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon, the Patriots could bolster their defense.

Kenyon believes that Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell would be a perfect fit in New England.

College production does not necessarily translate to the NFL, but Jack Campbell definitely wasn’t hurting in that department,” Kenyon wrote. “During the last two seasons at Iowa, he amassed 271 tackles with nine takedowns for loss. Campbell also snagged four interceptions, forced two fumbles and scored two defensive touchdowns. At the combine, Campbell provided a few emphatic answers about his athleticism. He notched top-three finishes at the position in vertical and broad jumps and led all linebackers in both the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

“Campbell basically screams, “I play for the Patriots.” Joking aside, he’s a logical fit in New England,” Kenyon added.

If selected, Kenyon would join an already impressive group of linebackers led by Ja’Whaun Bentley. There is hard to think of a better place for Campbell to learn about how to be a pro.

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