The Atlanta Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest-selected tight end in NFL Draft history last week. Once Atlanta selected Pitts, the writing was on the wall for Hayden Hurst. Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Falcons will not pick up the fifth-year option on Hurst, who Atlanta acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens last year.
Hurts set a career high in receptions, yards, and touchdown receptions last season. He caught 56 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns, ranking 10th in the league among tight ends in receptions, 14th in yards, and tied for ninth in touchdowns. Through three seasons, Hurst has 99 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns.
Hurst was acquired by the Falcons, along with a 2020 fourth-round pick prior to the start of last season. Baltimore received a 2020 second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick. The Ravens used the second-round pick to select J.K. Dobbins, who led all NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.01) while setting a Ravens rookie record with nine rushing touchdowns (third among all NFL rookies). His 805 rushing yards were also third among rookie running backs as Dobbins finished with a franchise-record seven consecutive games with a rushing touchdown.
Dobbins closed out the regular season with six consecutive games of 50-plus rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, tying Eric Dickerson (1983) and Franco Harris (1972) for the longest rookie streak of its kind since the AFL-NFL merger.
The Falcons looked to be the initial winners of this trade, but appear to be moving on from Hurst following his second season with the team. Hard to blame Atlanta after the team selected Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick. Pitts finished with 770 receiving yards -- the most in FBS among tight ends -- and 12 receiving touchdowns (tied for the most in FBS among tight ends) in just eight games last season. His 96.2 receiving yards per game were the fourth most by a FBS tight end since 2000.
Pitts is the Falcons' future at tight end. For 2021, Atlanta will maximize the potential of Pitts and Hurst in two-tight end sets -- as Hurst will audition to remain on the roster (at a reduced salary of course).