Panthers TE Hayden Hurst Undergoes Hernia Surgery

One of the many new faces in the Panthers’ pass-catching corps is Hayden Hurst. The veteran tight end is in line for a starting role in Carolina, but he will be missing time in his first offseason with his new team.

Hurst recently underwent sports hernia surgery, head coach Frank Reich said (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Joe Person). Reich added that there is no timetable for Hurst’s recovery. The latter has the chance to operate as a key member of the Panthers’ skill position group this year, after stints with the Ravens, Falcons and Bengals to begin his career.

Finding an environment in which he can be a team’s undisputed starter has proven to be challenging for the former first-rounder. Hurst played in a rotational role in Baltimore for two years, and the presence of Mark Andrews made him a logical trade candidate. He had a career-year in Atlanta in 2020 with a 56-571-6 statline. The Falcons’ decision to draft Kyle Pitts in 2021, however, left Hurst in need of another new opportunity, something which led to his one-and-done year with the Bengals.

The South Carolina product put up the second-highest reception (52) and yardage (414) totals of his career in Cincinnati in 2022, though the team ultimately decided to go in a different direction, eventually signing Irv Smith Jr. as a free agent. By that time, Hurst had already inked a three-year, $21.75MM deal with Carolina. The latter joined wideouts Adam Thielen and DJ Chark as veteran pass-catchers brought in to give an offense which will be led by rookie quarterback Bryce Young plenty of experience on that side of the ball.

Hurst, 29, faces notable expectations in 2023 given the lucrative nature of his contract and the first-team role he should occupy with the Panthers. His absence will be felt while he recovers from the procedure, while Carolina will turn to the likes of Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble and Stephen Sullivan at the TE spot during OTAs.

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