Falcons decline TE Hayden Hurst’s fifth-year option

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Matt Urben
·2 min read
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Despite a career year in 2020, the Falcons are likely moving on from tight end Hayden Hurst after the 2021 season. Not only did the team select Florida’s explosive TE/WR Kyle Pitts in the first round of the draft, but according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Falcons will pass on picking up Hurst’s fifth-year option for 2022.

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Hurst was acquired by Atlanta in a trade with Baltimore, sending a second-round pick to the Ravens after Austin Hooper left for the Browns in free agency. While Hurst wouldn’t make a Pro Bowl last season, he recorded career bests in catches (56), receiving yards (571) and touchdowns (six).

You might be wondering why the Falcons wouldn’t pick up Hurst’s fifth-year option considering it’s would only cost Atlanta $5.4 million in 2022 — roughly half of what it will cost to pick up Calvin Ridley’s option. However, drafting Pitts on Thursday would mean the team is paying a good chunk of change to what would be a backup tight end.

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I’m sure Falcons head coach Arthur Smith would have preferred to keep Hurst, but even a team that has cap room — which Atlanta does not — would struggle to pay a backup tight end over $5 million.

Hurst may be entering his final season with the Falcons, but he should still play a pivotal role this year as Smith likes to run two-tight end sets in his play-action heavy scheme he’s bringing over from Tennessee.

Today is the deadline for fifth-year options, but there’s still no word on Ridley. Expect the team to pick up their budding start at receiver or potentially work out a long-term deal.

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