Should Jacksonville Jaguars trade for Falcons TE Hayden Hurst?

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst #81 (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst #81 (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars have done a good job of fortifying their roster this offseason. However, they could still make changes to their tight end room. If they aren’t interested in organizing a reunion with Tyler Eifert or signing someone like Trey Burton, they could consider trading for Hayden Hurst.

Chris Roling of Bleacher Report recently wrote about veterans that should seek a trade before the start of the 2021 season. Although the Jaguars don’t have use for most of the players Roling listed, Hurst could actually make sense. A first-round pick in 2018, the South Carolina product spent the first two seasons of his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens and was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons last year.

Although Hurst hauled in a career-high 56 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns in 2020, the Falcons drafted tight end Kyle Pitts fourth overall in this year’s selection meeting. Furthermore, Atlanta chose not to exercise Hurst’s fifth-year option on his rookie deal. He is set to hit the open market next offseason, so it would make sense for the Jags to explore the possibility of acquiring the former Gamecock on a one-year rental.

Chris Manhertz and veteran James O’Shaughnessy are the Jaguars’ top two tight ends right now. Sophomores Ben Ellefson and Tyler Davis are other options. Also, Tim Tebow is making the transition to tight end and could end up making the team. Nevertheless, there may be room for Hurst on the roster.

Here’s why the Jacksonville Jaguars should acquire Hayden Hurst.

Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said in a recent sitdown with the local media that the team’s brass believes Manhertz is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Moreover, Meyer believes the former basketball player can turn into a functional receiver. The head coach also mentioned that both O’Shaughnessy and Ellefson and trending up. However, entrusting any of these players to make a significant leap in production in 2021 may not be the best course of action.

Manhertz has caught just 12 passes over his six-year career in the NFL while Tebow may or may not make the team. On the other hand, O’Shaughnessy and Ellefson combined for 29 receptions last year. The Jags would be wise to add someone else to their tight end room. Enter Hurst.

The 25th overall pick in 2018’s draft is more talented than any of the tight ends on the Jaguars roster. Roling also mentions Davi Njoku on his list but Hurst has been healthier and could have a bigger impact in Jacksonville. Although Hurst posted a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 58.9 in 2020, he earned a healthy 74.1 grade the season before.

Since Hurst doesn’t seem to figure in the Falcons’ long-term plans, the Jaguars could offer a third or fourth-round pick in exchange for the tight end. While a mid-round selection may look like too much, Jacksonville could end up with a playmaker at tight end. Let’s say Hurst joins the Jags and has a breakout year. The team’s brass could then opt to give him a long-term deal or even slap the franchise tag on him.

It’s a good thing that the Jags trust their current group of tight ends but they shouldn’t be opposed to giving the unit a boost. Thus, it doesn’t hurt to give the Falcons a call.

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