The New England Patriots are not exactly known for splurging in free agency, but that is mostly because they rarely had the cap space to make big moves throughout their dynastic run. When they did have the cap space, though, they weren't shy; the last time Bill Belichick had big money to work with, he signed Stephon Gilmore. With over $60 million to work with this offseason, it should come as no surprise that the Pats came out swinging from the get-go.
Teams were permitted to begin speaking to free agents at noon ET on Monday. Less than one hour later, Adam Schefter announced New England had signed free agent tight end Jonnu Smith to a big four-year deal worth $50 million with $31 million guaranteed.
It's a great signing by the Patriots if only because the tight end position has been a massive weakness for two straight seasons and Belichick let that happen because he failed to address Rob Gronkowski's decline as it happened, instead trying to make do with mid-round draft picks and an elderly Benjamin Watson. Last season, Patriots tight ends combined for 19 catches, 254 yards, and one touchdown. There were 36 tight ends in the NFL last season who totaled at least 254 yards on their own last season. It is truly impossible to overstate how ineffective the position group was in New England last year.