Falcons’ Lee Smith is retiring

061021 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons tight ends Kyle Pitts (left) and Lee Smith share a laugh during team practice at mini-camp on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2021, in Flowery Branch.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
061021 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons tight ends Kyle Pitts (left) and Lee Smith share a laugh during team practice at mini-camp on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2021, in Flowery Branch. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Falcons tight end Lee Smith, who played one season with the team, announced his retirement Thursday.

Smith was used mostly as a blocking tight end last season. He played in 16 games and made six starts. He caught nine passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Smith, who played at Tennessee and Marshall, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He played 311 offensive snaps (31%) and 60 snaps on special teams for the Falcons last season.

Smith is going to miss the relationships he made over his NFL years.

“I’ve always said that the best thing about pro football is the people,” Smith said. “A lot of great things come with this job. It’s best job in the world. But for me personally, the best thing about this gig for the last 11 years has always been the people. The relationships with guys from every nook and cranny of this country. That’s what’s special to me.”

Over the past offseason, the Falcons acquired Smith from the Bills for a seventh-round draft pick. The veteran played with the Bills from 2011-14 and from 2019-20. He was with the Raiders from 2015-18.

He provided the Falcons with blocking power and helped with the development of rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

Smith, 34, said he enjoyed working with Pitts.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Smith said late in the regular season. “He’s going to go to the Hall of Fame one day, if the good Lord keeps him healthy. He’s the total package.”

They had to overcome the age difference. Pitts turned 21 this season.

“He’s closer in age to my kids,” Smith noted.

Smith was genuine when discussing Pitts.

“The best thing about him is that he’s humble,” Smith said. “He doesn’t walk around here like he’s arrived because he went to the Pro Bowl, or that he’s about to hit 1,000 yards receiving this week in Buffalo, hopefully. He’s the same guy. He’s the same innocent, goofy rookie he was in minicamp before he caught a damn pass.”

Smith said he played to open a gym in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.

caption arrowCaption
Jan. 9, 2022 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons tight end Lee Smith, top right, shares a moment with his family after their loss against the New Orleans Saints 30-20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Jan. 9, 2022 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons tight end Lee Smith, top right, shares a moment with his family after their loss against the New Orleans Saints 30-20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

caption arrowCaption
Jan. 9, 2022 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta Falcons tight end Lee Smith, top right, shares a moment with his family after their loss against the New Orleans Saints 30-20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Atlanta. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

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