Panthers Expected To Sign TE Hayden Hurst

Post-D.J. Moore, the Panthers are in need of multiple pass catchers. They are planning to visit with Adam Thielen later on Wednesday, but they are also addressing their tight end spot. Hayden Hurst is expected to sign with Carolina, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

A former first-round pick, Hurst spent last season with the Bengals. He joined Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki as the top available tight ends on this year’s market. Hurst is signing a three-year deal with the Panthers,’s Adam Caplan tweets. The contract will check in at $21.75MM with $13MM guaranteed at signing, Mike Garafolo of tweets. Not bad for the South Carolina product, who signed for just $2MM guaranteed last year.

The ex-minor league baseball player will join his second NFC South team and fourth overall. Toggling between the AFC North and NFC South, Hurst spent two seasons in Baltimore and two in Atlanta prior to his Cincinnati one-off. Going into his age-30 season, Hurst will join a Panthers team that has not gotten much from its tight end spot since Greg Olsen‘s foot injuries began to pile up.

Stepping in for free agency defection C.J. Uzomah, Hurst caught 52 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns last season. He added 13 more grabs and another score in the playoffs, but the Bengals will continue to make changes at tight end after allowing another starter to leave in free agency.

Ian Thomas led Panthers tight ends in receiving yards in each of the past three seasons, but the offense did not feature much of a threat at this position. None of Thomas’ past three yardage totals eclipsed 200. Olsen, who racked up 597 yards in 2019, is the most recent Panther tight end to clear 200 in a season. The team signed Dan Arnold in 2021 but included him in a trade for C.J. Henderson in 2021. Hurst’s career-high mark came in 2020 — 571 — before the Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts fourth overall.

Hurst’s baseball past makes him a bit older than his NFL draft class; he is heading into his age-30 season. But the Panthers will make the former Pitts mentor and Ravens first-rounder a key part of their first Frank Reich-directed passing game. They still have work to do at receiver, and it is not known which quarterback will be Charlotte-bound via the No. 1 overall pick. But said rookie (and Andy Dalton, most likely) will be targeting Hurst in 2023.

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