On the Huddle and Flow podcast with Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter, Terry Fontenot referenced legendary general managers Ron Wolf and Ozzie Newsome. Wolf for his habit of always bringing in quarterbacks, whether through free agency, the draft, or “off the street.” And Newsome, for his signature “best player available” philosophy. Regardless of if it is through the draft or free agency, they will add to the team’s strengths, creating a competitive environment at every position. In this article, we will look at four free agents from positions of strength.
Will Matt Ryan and Julio Jones be on the Falcons roster in 2021? We ask GM Terry Fontenot on Huddle&Flow. @wyche89 @tewarren pic.twitter.com/kwkhth7WZH
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) February 16, 2021
Aside from the obvious connection between Arthur Smith and Jonnu Smith (their time in Tennessee together), this could be a perfect fit. Arthur Smith’s offense uses multiple tight end sets. 38% of the Titans’ play calls came out of a formation with at least two tight ends — 33% with two, 5% with three. With Hurst and Smith, the offense could be much more multiple in its formations. They are similar threats offensively as receivers, but the latter is much more dangerous with the ball in his hands.
According to PFF, “Over the last two years, Smith ranks sixth in receiving grade, third in yards after the catch per reception (6.8) and sixth in broken tackles (17).” Multiple tight end formations are difficult for defenses to defend, allowing the offense to attack vertically and horizontally with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, and Jonnu Smith on the field at once.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN SLEEPING ON JONNU SMITH, WAKE UP. 🔥🔥🔥 @Easymoney_81 pic.twitter.com/f1DxxtFRhw
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 12, 2020
This play is just silly.
Can we get a thread going of some our favorite NFL concepts of the year? Can just be something interesting or funny, a cool blitz, coverage, formation, RPO, whatever.
Here's one of my favorites, the #Titans getting into 02 personnel and running a toss play to TE Jonnu Smith. pic.twitter.com/tEa89JGC3X
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) February 5, 2020
In a free-agent class with Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, and Marvin Jones Jr., some might get less than they deserve because the market is so saturated. T.Y. Hilton could be the under-the-radar signing that turns out to be a difference-maker in a couple of years. According to PFF, Hilton did post a top-15 receiving grade on targets at the intermediate level in 2020, so it wouldn’t be crazy to say he can still add value as a vertical threat if paired with the right quarterback. Hilton could take the top off of defenses, allowing Hayden Hurst, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley to work underneath. Arthur Smith’s tendency to run play-action with max-protection works great with someone who gain ground on defensive backs fast, which Hilton is still elite at.
RIVERS CLUTCH TO TY HILTON 👀
— PFF (@PFF) December 20, 2020
K.J. Wright has been playing the position at a high level throughout his entire career. He remains one of the most intelligent and instinctual off-ball linebackers in the NFL and would allow for Mykal Walker, Foyesade Oluokon, and Deion Jones to play more freely. Wright finished the regular season with the seventh-best overall grade among linebackers at 75.3, according to PFF. He is as versatile as any linebacker, able to defend against the run and pass, but can also rush the passer — something Dean Pees is looking for in an off-ball linebacker. Obviously, age is a concern, but that could mean great value for Terry Fontenot as PFF projects Wright to command a $6 million APY.
KJ WRIGHT ONE HANDED IT 😱 @KJ_WRIGHT34 @Seahawks pic.twitter.com/xx1Q3G8HNz
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 12, 2020
KJ Wright blew things up on 4th down 💪 @KJ_WRIGHT34 @Seahawks
📺 #LARvsSEA on FOX pic.twitter.com/L0hTtmYUl4
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 27, 2020
Jared Cook’s time in New Orleans is likely coming to an end, but that doesn’t change the fact that Terry Fontenot was responsible for bringing him into the Saints’ organization in the first place. There could be some familiarity that convinces Cook Atlanta is the right place. He will go behind players like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Gerald Everrett, but the Falcons don’t need a #1; they need a situational backup for Hayden Hurst — one whose complimentary.
Cook has recorded the fifth-best receiving grade at the position over the last three years. He has also turned 26.4% of his targets into a 15-plus yard gain in that span, trailing only Travis Kelce by six-tenths of a percentage point for the highest rate by a tight end.
Let Jared Cook! 🍽#SAINTS | 📺: Fox | #NOvsCAR pic.twitter.com/yMGlsGYfm8
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 3, 2021
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