Seahawks should strongly go after tight end Jonnu Smith

The Seattle Seahawks need to rebuild their tight end room. If the Tennessee Titans do not franchise Jonnu Smith, Seattle should sign him. Smith is going to be a fantastic fit in what new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron wants to do but Smith is also an excellent receiver and a good run blocker.

For the most part of his career, Smith has not been an overwhelming performer. This could be because he is playing with a limited quarterback in an extremely run-heavy offense. Smith caught what was offered and did his best. He has caught 67.5 percent of his targets in his career.

It says a lot about Smith that while his targets in 2020 went up (he had a career-high of 65 compared to the next-best number of 44 in 2019), his yards did not increase that much from 2019 because of the way he was targeted. For instance, Smith’s average yards-before-catch was 5.1 in 2020 compared to 4.7 in 2019 but because he was mostly a dump-off option last year (which is why his targets went up), he averaged just 5.8 yards after his catch versus 7.8 in 2019 and 9 in 2018.

Jonnu Smith in the new Seahawks offense

Compare this to the way the Rams used their tight ends in recent seasons and Los Angeles was much more consistent and effective. (Shane Waldron will likely use a lot of the Rams principles in the Seahawks new offense.) Tyler Higbee was used to catch passes 5-7 yards down field and then because of the way the offense was designed normally could pick up 5-7 more yards after that.

Of Higbee’s 44 receptions in 2020, 26 went for a first down so nearly 60 percent of the time.

I can see Will Dissly doing really well, too, under Shane Waldron. Dissly was probably a bit underused last season. Jonnu Smith would be an even better fit than Dissly, however. Having Smith and Dissly work off of each other is only going to open up running lanes more as defenses will have to account for the tight ends being more creatively involved than they were when Brian Schottenheimer was the OC.

Smith also had the third-highest run block grade for 2020 among tight ends, per Pro Football Focus. He is a well-rounded tight end and would make Seattle a better offense.

There is a chance that Smith gets franchise tagged by the Titans but that tag would like be for around $8.7 million. Tennessee is already over the cap so Smith might be too expensive to tag. If he does make it onto the market, the Seahawks need to entice him to come to Seattle.