The Philadelphia Eagles are in the market for a new tight end with Zach Ertz set to be traded or released. Luckily, there is a dynamic option sitting out there in free agency with serious Philly roots.
Jonnu Smith (6-foot-3, 248 pounds) is considered a rising star at the position after hauling in 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns last year, all his receiving numbers were career-highs. The Tennessee Titans know their offense is way more explosive with Smith on the field, but the team will likely be faced with a tough decision: do they franchise their former third-rounder or put it on wide receiver Corey Davis? The latter was the fifth overall pick in 2017 who broke out for 984 yards in 2020.
The Titans might roll the dice with the other tight ends on their roster, MyCole Pruitt and Anthony Firkser, and leave Smith to find work elsewhere. Get Howie Roseman on the horn. Smith is a Philadelphia native (Germantown neighborhood, to be exact) who admitted to growing up an Eagles fan. He moved to Florida when he was in the 10th grade — it’s a tragic fairy-tale with many twists and turns — and played his college ball at Florida International University.
“I loved the Eagles,” Smith told ESPN in 2018. “Brian Dawkins, James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell, Brian Westbrook. Man, that defense was stacked. Lito Sheppard, Duce Staley, Jevon Kearse … who else was on that team? Jeremiah Trotter, Michael Lewis, that was my squad.”
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Spotrac Predicts $40 Million Deal for Smith
The biggest question for Roseman is how much would Smith be worth? The Eagles have been heavily linked to taking Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming draft. New head coach Nick Sirianni likes running two tight-end sets, so he’ll need someone to pair alongside Dallas Goedert.
Problem is, Smith is only 25 years old and could demand as much as a five-year deal worth up to $40 million, per Spotrac — that’s roughly $8 million per year. It’s a steep price but Smith might be worth it, especially after finally getting some experience last year as a first-string tight end.
“He continues to improve, he’s a great teammate, he’s an unbelievable player to coach and to be around every day,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Smith, via the Titans official website. “I’ve always admired his upbringing — I know his mom has done a fantastic job raising him. He’s a great teammate, he works hard, and you are always happy to see good things happen to those type of people.”
Eagles Depth at Tight End in 2021
Let’s take a look at that dwindling depth chart, shall we? The Eagles are expected to lose Ertz and hand the starting job over to Goedert. Behind him?
Well, there are a whole lot of question marks. The team could bring back veteran Richard Rodgers who has been a reliable, sure-handed target going back to his days in Green Bay. Josh Perkins also could steal a roster spot with a strong training camp after he missed all of last season.
Then, the Eagles will have to make evaluations on their younger tight ends on futures contracts: Hakeem Butler, Tyree Jackson, Caleb Wilson, Jason Croom. Butler is still transitioning from playing receiver in college while Jackson makes the move from college quarterback. Croom and Wilson saw limited snaps in 2020, but neither one is clearly locked in. It should be a fun summer in South Philly.
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