Dolphins Free Agency Grades: Jonnu Smith

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Dolphins have signed free agent TE Jonnu Smith to a 2-year deal worth up to $10 million. Smith was released by the Falcons after a strong season for the Falcons tallying 50 receptions for 582 yards (a career high) and 3 touchdowns.

Over the next week or two, I will be discussing each free agent added by the Dolphins, and where I think the player fits into this team. So far, Miami has been fairly active in addressing their needs through free agency, and hopefully, that will continue as we approach the draft. The first player signed by Miami was TE Jonnu Smith, so let's dive into this.

Jonnu Smith was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 Draft out of FIU. He has had marginal success in the league in stints with the Titans, Patriots, and Falcons, but has never jumped into the upper echelon of tight ends. Granted, he has not typically been TE1. In Tennessee he was behind Delanie Walker, in New England, he was behind Hunter Henry, and in Atlanta, he was second fiddle to Kyle Pitts, though his stats may show otherwise.

He offers the Dolphins a size and speed combination the team has been sorely lacking, and gives them a weapon who can spread the field up the seam, but can also make players miss in the open field. I can count on one hand the amount of tacklers current Dolphins TE Durham Smythe, and former TE Mike Gesicki made miss through their time in Miami. Jonnu offers the team another dimension in the passing game while adding to their impressive yards-after-catch arsenal. At only 28 (though he is a player I consistently think is at least 30) he still has a few prime years left in the tank.

This move comes amidst the fans clamoring for a trade-up in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft for Georgia star TE Brock Bowers, or taking talented Texas TE Ja'Tavion Sanders in the 2nd round. While the idea of adding a weapon like Bowers seems like a no-brainer, his landing spot in the draft varies from expert to expert. Some believe he will go as high as the Chargers at 5, while the lowest I have seen him taken is 15th to the Colts. Trading up to 14 is much more palatable than trading inside of the top 10. 

While Smith has never been an elite run blocker (PFF run block grade in the mid-low 60s throughout his career), he is what I would call a willing run blocker. I would expect the Dolphins to go after a true WR3 in the future, but Smith fills a need with regard to a solid pass-catching TE. Due to his willingness to block, I would imagine he will get on the field more than Gesicki in 2022. Many times through the 2023 season, QB Tua Tagovailoa would check down to Durham Smythe and leave me thinking "If he could have just slipped that tackle, he could've had at least 20 more yards", and that is what Jonnus Smith brings to the table.

Jonnu Smith brings a receiving threat from the TE position that the Dolphins have not had in recent years. His ability to separate and make guys miss will give defenses another playmaker to defend in a dangerous scheme. What he brings to the table, for the price he was brought in, is well worth the money.

Assuming he hits all of his incentives, $5 per year on a TE with Smith's ability is a great price. Due to Miami's cap constraints, and compensatory pick formula, we can expect to see them continue to look for bargain deals on players who have previously been released by their former team.

Jonnu Smith Grade: A-