Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
A few of Atlanta’s offseason additions are no longer with the team. Former Arthur Smith Titans charges Firkser and Pruitt — each of whom being with Tennessee during the current Atlanta HC’s run as Titans tight ends coach — leave a young tight end group. It would not surprise if one of the two — if not both — were back, via a belated active-roster return or practice squad stash. The Falcons currently have Kyle Pitts, 2021 UDFA Parker Hesse and sixth-round rookie John FitzPatrickat tight end.
The team also signed Kwiatkoski this offseason, bringing him in along with a few ILB investments. But the former Bears and Raiders starter/depth piece is back in free agency. The Falcons still have Deion Jones rostered, despite trade rumors, and have former first-round Titans pick Rashaan Evans in place as well. The team also drafted Troy Andersen in Round 2 this year.
Pruitt, who spent most of the past four years with the Titans, had surfaced on the workout circuit recently. The Bengals and Vikings brought him in, gauging his form after the ankle injury occurred late last season. Pruitt went down during the Titans’ Week 17 game in early January but will have an opportunity to be part of the Falcons’ 53-man roster.
This will import another of Arthur Smith‘s former Titans tight ends. The team also added Anthony Firkser to its Kyle Pitts-led position group this offseason. Atlanta did not retain 2021 Pitts complement Hayden Hurst, who played with the team for two seasons. Pruitt was with the Titans during part of Smith’s run as their tight ends coach and throughout his stay as offensive coordinator.
Used mostly as a blocker, Pruitt played between 36-44% of the Titans’ offensive snaps over the past three seasons. While the Titans let Pruitt sign with the 49ers in 2021, San Francisco cutting him before the start of the season paved a path back to Tennessee. The former Vikings fifth-round pick played a steady role in helping Derrick Henry to back-to-back rushing titles in 2019 and ’20. Last season doubled as Pruitt’s best receiving year, producing 14 receptions, 145 yards and three touchdown grabs (all career-high marks).
Going into what would be his age-30 season, Pruitt could be in position to complement Pitts. But he will have to show he has recovered from the ankle setback. The Falcons also used a sixth-round pick on tight endJohn FitzPatrick this year.
Chris Herndon will make his way to a third NFL team. The former Jets starter and Vikings contributor will join the Saints, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
This will be another new start for Herndon, whose market was quiet after his lone Minnesota season. The Jets shipped Herndon to the Vikings, who had recently lost Irv Smith Jr. for the season, prior to Week 1 last year. Herndon, 26, caught just four passes for 40 yards in 2021, seeing Tyler Conklin — whom the Jets signed this year — take over as the team’s top tight end.
A former fourth-round pick, Herndon is best known for his productive rookie season with the Jets. The Miami alum caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns, helping fellow rookie Sam Darnold in 2018. But Herndon has not been able to follow that up.
The 6-foot-4 pass catcher began the 2019 season suspended for a personal conduct policy violation and suffered a hamstring injury while preparing for that truncated slate. In Herndon’s one 2019 game, he suffered a fractured rib. In 2020, Herndon struggled to find the form of his rookie year, totaling just 287 receiving yards.
The Saints have ex-third-rounder Adam Trautman (263 receiving yards in 2021, most among Saints tight ends) going into his third season and have moved Taysom Hill out of the quarterback conversation. The ex-starter is still expected to factor in on gadget plays as a QB, but his primary position will be tight end. Juwan Johnson, who led Saints tight ends in TDs last year with four, is also on the roster.
New Orleans also considered another former Viking, MyCole Pruitt, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com noting the veteran tight end worked out for the team (Twitter link). Pruitt’s Minnesota days came back in the mid-2010s, however. He spent the past four seasons with the Titans, working more as a blocking tight end.
Titans tight end MyCole Pruitt suffered a fractured and dislocated ankle during today’s game against against the Dolphins (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Now set for surgery, Pruitt will surely be out for the rest of the season, including the playoffs.
Pruitt, 29, had 14 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns heading into today’s game. The Titans went on to win 34-3, but they’ve lost an essential run blocker heading into the postseason.
The Titans will still have veteran Geoff Swaim and Anthony Firkser on the roster and they have Austin Forton the practice squad. Tennessee uses multiple tight end sets pretty frequently to leverage their rushing attack and they’ve utilized all three of their tight ends pretty equally with all three getting their fair share of snaps. Through Week 16, Swaim led the group playing 58.6% of the offensive snaps, Pruitt followed with 44.4%, and Firkser was on the field for 33.4%. None are really receiving threats, so the two remaining tight ends will continue to fill their role and Tennessee will hope a player like Fort can step up in heavy packages or when called upon to give his teammates a breather.
As for Pruitt, the hope is that the severity of the injury is low and the recovery from the surgery is quick as he heads into the offseason as a free agent. On a lucky note, Swaim and Firkser are also in contract years, so if the Titans like their trio of tight ends, it may be an easy decision to extend any combination of the three.