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Tight end Jonnu Smith got a little emotional thinking back to signing with Patriots

Tight end Jonnu Smith scored eight touchdowns with the Titans last season.
Tight end Jonnu Smith scored eight touchdowns with the Titans last season.Stacy Revere/Getty

Tight end Jonnu Smith couldn’t help but get a little emotional thinking back to March 15, the day he agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with the Patriots.

“I cried all I could,” he recalled Tuesday during his first news conference with reporters. “I don’t want to start tearing up.”

For Smith, 25, the deal represents the culmination of hard work — and reflects the potential of what’s to come.

“It was one of the greatest days of my life, one of the most exciting days of my life, one of the most thrilling days of my life,” he said. “To be able to start a new chapter, fresh start, new journey, I’m ecstatic, man.”

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Last season, Smith posted career-best numbers with the Tennessee Titans, catching 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranked third on the team in receiving production, behind wideouts A.J. Brown and Corey Davis.

Smith was the first of several free agent acquisitions for the Patriots, who went on an uncharacteristic spending spree this offseason. He joins tight end Hunter Henry, as well as wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, as key members of the renovated passing attack.

Echoing what Henry said the day before, Smith shared his excitement about the possibilities of a 12-personnel offense.

“I’ve seen the success that Patriots have had in the past with two-tight end sets,” he said. “I’m just confident in their ability to allow us to make plays.”

So, did Smith have a feeling about who else would be joining him? Did he have any idea about what was to come?

“I don’t work upstairs,” he said. “But just knowing the coaches and the type of people that are within this organization, I knew every dime was well spent. I’m just looking forward to starting off with the guys, man, and continuing to build on this historical franchise.”

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As one of the top players on the free agent market at his position, he surely had other suitors. But Smith called the Patriots “the perfect opportunity.” He emphasized their alignment on the value of hard work.

Last season, Jonnu Smith posted career-best numbers with the Tennessee Titans, catching 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last season, Jonnu Smith posted career-best numbers with the Tennessee Titans, catching 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns.Wade Payne/Associated Press

“From knowing what I knew, I believed everything they stand for kind of matches my football DNA,” he said. “I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity. I believe that this franchise has everything it needs, all the right stuff, and I’m just honored and blessed to be a part of that.”

From his first days at the facility, Smith noted he has already sensed a “winning mentality” in the building, adding that the culture is different than anything he’s ever experienced.

He’s started to get to know some of his teammates and plans to join them for workouts in the future. A group of players, including Henry, Bourne, N’Keal Harry, Cam Newton, and Jarrett Stidham, are participating in throwing sessions together in California.

Smith said he’s already spoken to Newton over the phone and is looking forward to meeting him in person. Despite Newton’s struggles last season, a number of Patriots — both new and old — have expressed interest in playing with him.

“He’s a competitor, man,” Smith said. “I’ve known that since I watched him in college.”

Oh, and as for Smith’s thoughts on coach Bill Belichick?

“He’s a man of few words, but every word he says is extremely important,” he said. “That’s why you have to keep your mouth shut and your ears open.”

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Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.