The Atlanta Falcons are not picking up the fifth-year option on tight end Hayden Hurst, meaning he’ll be a free agent after this season, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Monday.
Hurst had been the No. 25 pick of the 2018 NFL draft by Baltimore and then was traded last March along with a fourth-round pick to Atlanta for the Falcons’ second-and-fifth round picks last year.
He posted career-high numbers with the Falcons last season, making 56 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns on 88 targets. In his career between Baltimore and Atlanta, he played in 44 games with 99 catches for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns.
While he had been the team’s No. 1 tight end option last season, the Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts No. 4 overall Thursday — the highest a tight end has ever been drafted in the modern era — potentially shifting Hurst’s role and his future in Atlanta. The team also traded for blocking tight end Lee Smith at the start of the new league year.
Hurst, 27, who is scheduled to be on the roster this season, has $1.349 million of his base salary for 2021 fully guaranteed and a cap hit of $1,984,914 and should end up as the No. 2 tight end for the Falcons this season.
Had the Falcons picked up the option, Hurst would have been paid $5.428 million in 2022, according to Over the Cap.
The Falcons picked up the the fifth-year option of receiver Calvin Ridley on Monday — not surprising after a 90-catch, 1,374-yard, nine touchdown season in 2020.
Ridley’s option, according to Over the Cap, is expected to be $11.116 million.