Patriots: Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry additions could revive Cam Newton

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 27: Tight end Jonnu Smith #81 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 27: Tight end Jonnu Smith #81 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots made a fairly surprising move when they re-signed Cam Newton to presumably be their starting quarterback next season.

While the latest buzz suggests the Patriots aren’t done adding to their QB room, their aggressiveness last week and at the start of the legal tampering period suggests they’re motivated to put Newton in the best possible position to succeed.

They’ve signed signed tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, which will completely change the complexion of the offense. The former Titans star has long been perceived as an ideal fit with New England given his adeptness in the blocking and pass-catching departments, while the former Chargers star has long believed to be a favorite of Bill Belichick’s.

Taking that into account, both will go a long way towards resolving the TE issue that has plagued the Pats’ offense for multiple seasons. However, something tells us they’ll be equally valuable when it comes to helping Newton revive his career.

The Patriots are helping Cam Newton big time with the Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry signings.

This might sound crazy given how electric some of his Panthers offenses were, but Newton has never really had the luxury of throwing to an elite receiving corps. During his nine-year run in Carolina, tight end Greg Olsen was always his main target in the passing game.

Throughout their time together (nine seasons), Olsen led the team in receiving three times, which included three consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons from 2014 to 2016. Injuries derailed his final three campaigns with the Panthers, but the fact that he eclipsed the 800-yard receiving threshold five times with Newton throwing his way proves Smith will play a monster role on the Patriots.

Smith’s career-high for receiving yards sits at 448, but that can largely be attributed to the fact that he was often fourth in the touch/target pecking order on Tennessee’s offense, behind the likes of running back Derrick Henry and wideouts AJ Brown and Corey Davis.

Despite those circumstances working against him, Smith managed a career-high eight touchdown catches last campaign. If Newton improves his accuracy and decision-making, there’s no reason to think the former third-round pick couldn’t finish among the league leaders in catches, yards and touchdowns for tight ends next season.

Throw in the fact that Smith will offer Newton more protection as a blocker, and you’ll come to the realization that the Patriots knocked it out of the park with this signing.

As for Henry, he’s long been viewed as one of the most talented in the sport, but injuries have limited him to 55 games over five seasons. His stats don’t exactly blow anybody away, but his near-12 yards per reception is considerable and his size (6-foot-5, 250-pound frame) is excellent for the red zone.

While not as good of a blocker as Smith, Henry is still solid in that department and can stretch the field by creating mismatches in the passing game. We’ve seen the kinds of athletic plays Smith can make, but Henry boasts a league-leading 132.3 passer rating when targeted since 2016.

Get ready to see a whole new version of Cam Newton in 2021, Patriots fans.