Hayden Hurst

Bengals To Sign Hayden Hurst

The Bengals appear to have found a short-term replacement for C.J. Uzomah. Cincinnati is signing tight end Hayden Hurst, to a one-year deal according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Jets To Sign C.J. Uzomah]

Hurst, 28, started his career in Baltimore. He flashed potential in two campaigns with the Ravens, totalling 43 catches and 512 yards in 28 games. With Mark Andrews ahead of him on the depth chart, however, it became clear that Hurst would need to go elsewhere to have an opportunity as a starter. He requested – and was granted – a trade to Atlanta in 2020.

In his first season with the Falcons, the former first rounder played closer to the level he was capable of with increased playing time. He totalled 56 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns. However, the Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts last offseason, which again limited Hurst’s target share. It’s not surprising, then, that he is on the move again.

In Cincinnati, Hurst will step into a sizeable opening left by Uzomah’s departure. His production in the passing game – along with his blocking ability – should keep him on the field for a Bengals offense which was among the league’s best in 2021. This addition should help compliment the team’s talented WR trio enough for the Bengals to replicate their success in the passing game.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/11/21

Here is how teams finalized their Week 14 rosters:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Falcons Designate Hayden Hurst For Return

The Falcons have designated tight end Hayden Hurst for return from injured reserve. To make room for Hurst, the Falcons have waived veteran punter Dustin Colquitt

Atlanta traded for Hurst last year, but the team’s new regime replaced him as the primary tight end by selecting Kyle Pitts No. 4 overall in April. Hurst caught 56 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. While Pitts is now the leader of this group and has emerged as one of the NFL’s most promising rookies, Hurst still had 20 receptions through nine games, up until his ankle injury.

The Falcons will now have 21 days to either activate Hurst or lose their opportunity to use him for the rest of the year. Odds are, he’ll be ready to go soon. Hurst, 28, is due to be a free agent in March since the Falcons declined his fifth-year option.

Colquitt, a 17-year-veteran, appeared in six games as Cameron Nizialek‘s fill-in. He was doing well, up until he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the Falcons have picked up longtime Saints punter Thomas Morstead. Morstead is now set to continue in the role for the rest of the season.

Falcons Place TE Hayden Hurst On IR

The Falcons will make an adjustment to their two-tight end sets in the weeks to come. They placed Hayden Hurst on IR due to the ankle injury he is battling.

Hurst did not practice this week. The fourth-year tight end played 23 snaps in Atlanta’s loss to Dallas and has played alongside Kyle Pitts in every Falcons game this season.

Blocking tight end Lee Smith, however, is good to go for Thursday’s game, according to the team. Smith missed the Cowboys game due to a back issue. Atlanta also elevated tight end Parker Hesse from its practice squad ahead of its game against New England.

Atlanta traded for Hurst last year, but the team’s new regime replaced him as the primary tight end by selecting Pitts fourth overall in April. Hurst caught 56 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. While Pitts is now the leader of this group and has emerged as one of the NFL’s most promising rookies, Hurst still has 20 receptions through nine games.

Although the Falcons traded second- and fifth-round picks for Hurst last year, they declined the ex-minor league baseball player’s fifth-year option. Hurst, 28, is due to be a free agent in March. The former first-round pick would have a few games at the end of this season to make a final impression for tight end-seeking teams.

Falcons To Decline Hayden Hurst’s Option

The Falcons will not exercise the fifth-year option on tight end Hayden Hurst (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler). Hurst, a 2018 draft pick of the Ravens, is now on track for free agency in 2022. 

The Falcons traded for Hurst last spring just after Austin Hooper left in free agency. In exchange, the Falcons sent second and fifth round picks to Baltimore while receiving a fourth-round pick along with Hurst.

Hurst immediately took a backseat to Mark Andrews — a third-rounder — in 2018. He missed the early part of his rookie season with a stress fracture in his foot and the injury nagged him even after his return. Hurst ended up catching only 13 passes for 163 yards that year. In 2019, he fared a bit better — 30 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

This past year, the South Carolina product had the best statistical season of his career with 56 grabs for 571 yards and six scores, However, the Falcons are now set to install Kyle Pitts as their top TE, making Hurst expendable.

Had they picked up his option, Hurst would have made $5.428MM in 2022.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Latest On COVID-19’s NFL Impact

Although a lockout marred the 2011 NFL offseason, this year will eclipse that delayed offseason for the most unusual in the league’s modern history. Here is some of the fallout from how COVID-19 has affected the NFL during free agency and how it will impact the league going forward:

  • Some teams have inserted coronavirus-triggered language into contracts. With players not permitted to visit team facilities and take physicals and teams not allowed to have staffers meet with free agent targets, some teams have included provisions into contracts indicating that failed physicals would void signing bonus money, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. Players are prohibited from entering team facilities until at least April, and with this likely set to be an offseason without OTAs, it could be months before free agents take physicals with their new teams. It is not known how many teams are taking this hard-line stance, Fowler notes.
  • Teams are permitted to use independent physicians for physicals, but Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) some of the league’s franchises are not comfortable doing so. The delay on physicals has led to most free agency deals yet to be officially announced. Some teams that have announced trades got around these rules. The Falcons and Ravens announced their Hayden Hurst-centered trade because Hurst took his physical before the COVID-19 rules went into effect, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. This delay on teams’ medical staffs being able to examine players figures to keep some free agents with injury questions unsigned and has certainly impacted the Cam Newton trade market.
  • Due to the stock market’s uncertainty because of coronavirus, multiple NFL owners instructed their front offices to defer signing bonus payments for as long as possible, Florio reports. Signing bonuses are committed to players when they sign, but teams often pay them in installments. Some teams are trying to push back the windows for some of the bonus money to be paid, Florio adds, noting that the Raiders are avoiding signing bonuses altogether. Las Vegas made multiple splashy signings early in free agency, but no details of signing bonuses emerged after those agreements.
  • Some NFL execs were unhappy the league moved forward with free agency during this unprecedented climate in North American sports. “Tone deaf is right!” a GM told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “The world has stopped. We’re in a national emergency as a country and we do this? It’s awful. We’re telling the rest of the world we don’t care.” While the NFL provided the sports-following world with a distraction this week, the uncertainty surrounding OTAs and minicamps — and the lack of pre-draft visits and workouts — will send the league into a strange period similar to what the other major American sports are navigating because of coronavirus.
  • The NFL will make some changes to the draft, and some notable unknowns still exist a month away from the annual April event.