Keith Smith has been a fixture on special teams since joining the Falcons in 2019, and he has paved the way on the ground for Atlanta’s ground game over that time. The Falcons clearly value both sides of that role, as they’ve re-signed the veteran fullback.
The news comes per AJ Vaynerchuk, of VaynerSports, which represents Smith.
Smith, who will be heading into his age 31 season, is a physical blocker who plays around a quarter of the offensive snaps each year. In his role as a fullback, he rarely touches the ball and has gotten mixed grades from outlets like Pro Football Focus, which ranked him as the 27th-best blocker on the team in 2022. He’s capable of the occasional big play when he touches the ball and is, despite those grades, a player the team values as a fullback, which is part of the story with this re-signing.
The other, likely bigger piece is what he offers on special teams, where Smith plays around 60% of the snaps every year and contributes as a sure tackler and blocker. Marquice Williams likely had a major say in this re-signing given that value, and I’d go so far as to say it’s the primary reason Smith is coming back. Given that special teams was a true team strength in 2022 and the Falcons would like to keep it that way, it just makes sense.
Smith may face some rare competition this year for the fullback role from offseason addition Clint Ratkovich, but his experience, track record, and special teams value ought to give him an early leg up. Ratkovich has the potential to be the more promising blocker, but may ride out 2023 on the practice squad unless he dazzles this spring and summer.
Congratulations to Smith on his return—there sure are a lot of Smiths on this team now!—and we’ll hope he’s a key piece of a terrific offense and stellar special teams unit in 2023.