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Saturday, March 14, 2009
Smith says he's going to Atlanta

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

It's been some time since his visit, but it looks like free-agent tight end L.J. Smith will sign with the Atlanta Falcons.

At least that's what Smith told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover on Friday. He said he expects the deal to be finalized in the next few days.

That would be good news for the Falcons who have had a very quiet start to free agency. Signing Smith would bring the one upgrade the coaching staff wants for the offense. That's a pass-catching tight end to go with receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins.

Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan rarely threw to his tight ends last season and the Falcons want to give him another toy to work with. Smith caught 37 passes, including three touchdowns, for Philadelphia last season. Smith, 28, previously had two seasons where he caught at least 50 passes.

Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey isn't likely to look for 50 catches out of Smith. But having him catch 30 to 40 passes would be a major boost to the offense and Ryan.