Veteran TE Released by Falcons After Seven Years

Falcons reshape roster, eye future with strategic cap space.

by Nouman Rasool
Veteran TE Released by Falcons After Seven Years
© Nick Grace/Getty Images

In a notable shift within the NFL landscape, the Atlanta Falcons have decided to part ways with Jonnu Smith, a seasoned tight end who reunited with Arthur Smith, the then-head coach of the Falcons, in a 2023 trade. With the dawn of a new era under a fresh coaching staff, the Falcons are set to release Smith, marking another significant transition for the player as he gears up for his first venture into free agency since 2021, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Smith, who has been a reliable force on the field, wrapped up the 2023 season with commendable stats, setting personal records with 50 receptions and accruing 582 receiving yards, alongside contributing three touchdowns.

Despite these achievements contributing to an otherwise modest Falcons' passing game, the team's strategic direction under new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson signals a move away from reliance on veteran talent like Smith, who played a pivotal role alongside Kyle Pitts.

Falcons' Strategic Release

The decision to release Smith opens up $6.5 million in cap space for the Falcons, elevating their total cap space to the vicinity of $40 million. This financial maneuvering comes at a critical time as Kyle Pitts, a standout performer and former No.

4 overall pick, becomes eligible for an extension. The Falcons have the option to extend Pitts' rookie contract through 2025 by exercising the fifth-year option, a move that would secure his talents for the near future at a cost of $10.88 million.

Last season, Smith and Pitts emerged as one of the NFL's premier tight end duos, collectively amassing over 1,200 receiving yards on 103 catches. Smith's tenure with the Falcons allowed him to reestablish his prowess as a receiver, particularly after a less impactful stint with the New England Patriots, where he struggled to replicate his previous success.

Before his time with the Falcons, Smith had demonstrated his capabilities with the Tennessee Titans under Arthur Smith's tutelage, exceeding 400 receiving yards in each season. Although Arthur Smith's move to Pittsburgh and the Steelers' current tight end roster may complicate a potential reunion, Smith's proven track record and recent performance are likely to make him a sought-after asset in the free agency market.

As the NFL off-season progresses, Smith's next destination remains a topic of intrigue, showcasing the ever-evolving dynamics of team rosters and player careers.