Replacing a productive veteran like Austin Hooper isn’t easy. But the Falcons made it look that way on the first day of the NFL’s free agent signing period.
The Falcons traded a second-round and a fifth-round pick to acquire third year tight end Hayden Hurst from the Baltimore Ravens along with a fourth round selection in the April’s selection meeting.It was the Falcons’ first move by way of addition of 2020 and it was in my opinion a power move. It was a point toward the left field to signal the home run to come (can you tell I miss live sports yet?).
Adding Hurst, on the surface, looks like a bit of a potential falling off from the production given by Hooper over the last two seasons.
Hurst’s production looks minuscule in comparison. Hurst caught 43 passes and three touchdowns in his first two seasons with Ravens to Hooper’s 146 catches and 10 touchdowns.
However, Hurst was a first round talent. He has a tad bit more speed than Hooper and is about two inches taller than the ex-Falcon tight end. For Matt Ryan that means more room for error when targeting Hurst, particularly in traffic. Hurst threatens the defense vertically as well as horizontally and in the flats.
The Falcons have a red zone weapon that Hooper may not have been in his time in Atlanta. Hooper was productive in the red zone, but Hurst may have potential to be a matchup nightmare. There’s much to be intrigued about with this deal. The Falcons will find Hurst’s contract significantly more financially appealing than the one the Cleveland Browns signed up for in making Hooper the highest paid tight end in the NFL. Hurst is 26-years old playing under a rookie contract for the next two years with an option tacked onto the end of the deal.
That means the Falcons have a young player entering his prime on a rookie deal for at least three seasons. As Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff make bids to leave a lasting impression that keeps them in Atlanta beyond 2020 they get an instant impact player with a bit of a bang for their buck attached.