New England Patriots: 3 players that failed to produce in the 2021 season

New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
Jonnu Smith #81 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots player that failed to produce No. 1: Jonnu Smith

Jonnu Smith was easily the Patriots most disappointing free agent signing from last offseason, but he also might just be the most disappointing signing in the entire league for that matter. The Patriots handed Smith a 4 year, $50 million deal, and then basically watched Smith turn into one of the most useless players in the league. Now the Patriots are stuck with Smith and his massive contract with no way out.

As you might recall, the Pats double dipped for Smith and fellow tight end Hunter Henry early on free agency last offseason. Henry turned out just fine, and ended up becoming one of New England’s most dangerous red zone weapons. Smith struggled out of the gate, and just never seemed to come close to figuring things out.

Smith finished the season with 28 catches for 294 yards and just one touchdown. Considering the first year of Smith’s deal was for just $1 million, it’s not a huge loss. But now the Patriots are on the hook to pay Smith $9 million in 2022, and they are running the risk of having to severely overpay for a blocking tight end.

Smith’s struggles just don’t make any sense, as he seems like a perfect fit in this offense. Smith is one of the best tight ends when it comes to picking yards after the catch, so just find a way to get him the ball, and go from there. The problem seemed to be the Patriots just couldn’t get him the ball, and even when they did, nothing ever came of it. Whether it be screens, hand offs, or anything you can think of, Smith provided virtually nothing on offense for the Pats this season.

Next. Bill Belichick has some soul searching to do. dark

The only way to make this deal work for New England is for Smith to somehow find a way to become productive again. Design plays for him to get involved as both a blocker and a receiver, and then go from there. Smith had an awful first season in Foxboro, but there’s really no turning back now, and significant strides need to be made from the veteran tight end, or else the Pats are going to be in trouble.