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Chiefs and tight end Irv Smith Jr. agree to a 1-year deal, AP source says

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs and Irv Smith Jr. agreed Tuesday on a one-year deal, giving quarterback Patrick Mahomes a veteran tight end behind Travis Kelce, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract cannot be finalized until Wednesday, the start of the new league year.

Blake Bell and Jody Fortson, who have been backing up Kelce, are due to become free agents, so the Chiefs were in the market for someone to work with him in multiple tight end sets. The 25-year-old Smith also makes them younger at an important position in the Kansas City offense; Kelce will turn 35 next season while Bell turns 33 before Week 1.

The Chiefs also have tight end Noah Gray on the roster. He had 28 catches for 305 yards and two TDs last season.

Smith has struggled with injuries throughout his four-year career in Minnesota and Cincinnati, ending the 2021 season on injured reserve with a torn meniscus in his knee and spending time on IR the following year with an ankle injury.

He's been productive when he's been on the field, though. Smith has started 21 of 49 career games, including six of 12 last season for the Bengals, and he has 109 catches for 973 yards and 10 touchdowns. His best season came in 2020, when the former Alabama standout had 30 catches for 365 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games for the Vikings.

The Chiefs are expected to bolster their offense in free agency after it slumped during their Super Bowl run, primarily due to a lack of production at wide receiver. But most of their work so far has been to keep together the league's No. 2 defense.

Last week, the Chiefs brought back linebacker Drue Tranquill on a three-year, $19 million contract. On Monday, they completed a five-year, $158.75 million deal with Chris Jones that made the All-Pro tackle one of the NFL's highest-paid defensive players.

“Winning another ring with the Chiefs organization, I think that was the most important goal,” said Jones, who already has three Super Bowl rings and will try to help Kansas City become the first team to win three consecutive Lombardi Trophies.

“For me,” Jones said, “it was important to come back. I wanted to leave a legacy in Kansas City. That was the talk throughout the year, very silently, just understanding I wanted to be here with this organization. There was no other I wanted to play for.”

Jones spoke with reporters in Kansas City on Tuesday for the first time since signing the contract.

“Deep down, I never had any plans to leave,” said Jones, who nevertheless held out through Week 1 this past season, when the sides were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal heading into the final year of his previous contract.

“I always felt like something could be done,” he said. “It was a yearlong process of communicating with my team and the Chiefs and making sure this got done, and a lot of patience on both ends.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL