Jonnu Smith Reportedly Won't Be Franchise-Tagged by Titans Ahead of Deadline

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans reportedly did not use the franchise tag on tight end Jonnu Smith ahead of Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Smith, one of the top tight ends on the market, will be hitting free agency.

Smith recorded 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020, setting career highs in all three categories.

The Titans have only $2.2 million in projected cap space, which likely played a large part in their decision to allow Smith to explore free agency.

Smith will join a free-agent crop of tight ends that also includes Hunter Henry, Rob Gronkowski and Robert Tonyan. Gronkowski is a mortal lock to re-sign in Tampa Bay and Tonyan is a restricted free agent, which means Smith and Henry will get the bulk of the interest on the open market. 

Henry has flashed more Pro Bowl-caliber talent than Smith, but both are young tight ends in the prime of their careers who should generate a swath of interest on the open market. The Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots are among the teams that have glaring holes at the tight end spot.

The Titans may now turn their top tight end role over to Anthony Firkser, who emerged as a solid underneath option in 2020.