BOSTON (CBS) — Jonnu Smith was the first big splash that Bill Belichick made when he dove head-first into the NFL free agency pool this offseason, and the tight end is eager to reward the Patriots for the hefty payday that they gave him. He’s going to do so with some great play on Sundays, and an unrelenting work ethic every other day of the week.

It took less than an hour into the NFL’s legal tampering period for the Patriots and Smith to reach an agreement, one of several big-name signings the Patriots have made this week. Smith, along with fellow free agent signee Hunter Henry, figure to be the perfect elixir for New England’s troubles at the tight end position over the last few seasons.

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And judging by what Smith had to say about his attitude and commitment to his craft, you can understand why he’s a perfect match for Belichick and the Patriots.

“They’re definitely getting the hardest worker that has ever come through Gillette Stadium. That’s just what I believe in,” Smith said Wednesday on NFL Network. “That’s all I know. I was never the highest recruited high school player, never labeled the best tight end in college. Even at this level I had to carve out a path for my own self.

“That is what kept me going. That is what kept me in that weight room an extra 30 minutes more than other guys. That just kept me going,” he continued. “That’s all I know. That’s what I believe in. There’s just not a guy that when I walk in that building, that can outwork me. I’m sure the Patriots, that’s what they believe in.”

Smith caught 16 touchdowns during his four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, with half of those coming in a career-year in 2020. While he’s had a knack for finding the end zone, especially in the red zone, Smith is best known for his ability to turn a short catch into a lengthy gain.

“On the field, I feel like I’m the most versatile tight end in this league,” Smith said Wednesday. “That’s really not up for other people to tell me I’m not. I know what I can do. I know what I can do once the ball is in my hands. There’s no tight end in the league better than me at that. I’m just going to go out and prove that.”

Smith said he hasn’t spoken to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels yet on how he’ll be utilized in New England, but he can’t wait to get to work with some of the best coaches in the business.

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“Historical franchise with historical coaches. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting those guys and starting this thing off on the right foot,” he said. “Coach Belichick has seen it. He had a certain belief in me and I’ve got all the respect in the world for him. My plan from Day 1 has been to come through that door and just work. That’s all I know. That’s what has gotten me here. I’m extremely blessed and I’m excited for the opportunity.” Staff