Earlier this week, the Falcons decided to decline Hayden Hurst’s fifth-year option, meaning he will be a free agent after this upcoming season. That started some speculation that the tight end out of South Carolina could potentially be traded before the 2021 campaign begins. However, new tight ends coach Justin Peelle might have put that all to rest at his press conference today. Not only did Peelle say that Hurst and Kyle Pitts will be on the field at the same time, but he also praised Hurst for how much he has improved since coming out of the draft three years ago.
Tight ends coach Justin Peelle talking with the media says both Hayden Hurst and Kyle Pitts will be in the field at the same time. Peelle says Hurst has really improved since he evaluated him coming out of the draft #Falcons
— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) May 5, 2021
A former tight ends coach himself, Arthur Smith loves his tight ends, and he relishes having two of them on the field at the same time. Smith could run an entire offense out of 12 personnel alone, and he utilized it profusely while he was the offensive coordinator in Tennesse — 33% of the Titans total play calls came in 12 personnel under Smith.
This creates matchup nightmares for defenses. They are forced to either guard Pitts and Hurst with linebackers and safeties or sub in cornerbacks for coverage purposes. Based on the defense’s personnel, Smith can create favorable matchups both in the running and passing game.
By trading Hurst, the Falcons could save around $2 million and probably pick up a late pick in the 2022 draft. But if Atlanta is trying to compete now, as Arthur Smith has made abundantly clear following the draft, keeping both of these ultra-athletic tight ends on the roster is the best way to do so.