Many assumed second-year tight end Levine Toilolo would insta-replace Gonzalez but based on how Smith spoke, he shouldn't be counted on to be as big of a contributor.
"It's definitely going to be a different style of offense," Smith said at the NFL Owners Meeting in Orlando this week. "We talk all the time about having to have scorers and having assist men. The tight end position in the last five or six years has been filled by a guy that's a scorer. I think the person that will take that role moving forward will be an assist man and there will be a different skill set."
In limited play last year Toilolo had 11 catches for 55 yards, but with two touchdowns.
"I think you'll see more of a traditional Y-tight end; Tony was a hybrid, the first hybrid tight end," Smith said. "Last year we drafted Levine Toilolo and he's more of a Y-tight end. Tony is a guy that's had 80-plus catches on average for us, so there's going to be a redistribution of who the ball is going to go to and we've got a couple of guys that we feel really good about at the wide receiver position. ... I think the role that the tight end (will have) is going from the scoring guy to the assist man or the set-up man."
Smith figures that the Falcons will use other weapons in the passing game and anticipates opponents rolling their pass coverage outside. Makes sense considering their receiving corps. But this should end discussion about Toilolo as a Fantasy sleeper. Being called an "assist man" by your head coach typically isn't a good thing.