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Jonnu Smith Knew Pats Liked Him Even Before Free Agency

New Pats TE heard Belichick's gushing description of him before 2020 wildcard game

It wasn’t difficult for Jonnu Smith to explain why he chose the Patriots in free agency over several other suitors.

The tight end, who signed for four years and $50 million last week, felt the Pats were the best fit.

"It just seemed like the perfect opportunity,” he said during his first Pats video conference Tuesday. “From knowing what I know, I believe that everything they stand for kind of matches my football DNA. I just couldn’t pass the opportunity. I believe this franchise has everything it needs – all the right ingredients."

Smith was the first new Pats player to agree to terms during the legal tampering period, and then nearly $200 million in money went out the door to bring in the rest of New England’s free agent class. He said he wasn’t surprised by the spending because he had faith in the organization bulking up and he figures “every dime is well spent.”

He also had an inkling before free agency that the Pats would have their eyes on him. After all, in the leadup to the 2020 wild card game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pats, coach Bill Belichick threw verbal roses at Smith’s feet in response to a question about Smith’s style of play.

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“He can do a lot of things: blocks well, runs well, is a good receiver,” Belichick said back then. “I mean, hell, they played him at tailback. He looked pretty good back there. So, he’s a very athletic player, hard to tackle, catches the ball well. He’s great after the catch -- probably the best in the league. I mean, I can’t imagine anybody better than him after the catch. No, he looks like a tight end to me. And a good one.”

Smith heard those words but tried to not let them affect him.

“I did [hear him say that]. And as a player I take everything with a grain of salt, you know, don’t think too deep into things good or bad. Because at the end of the day, I’ve got to go out and play, perform at a certain level,” Smith said. "It was definitely a pleasure coming from him.

Smith had 238 yards after the catch last season.

Matt Kalman is the editor of SI Patriots Maven. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.