2. Bengals TE Hayden Hurst
The Lions tight end group did just fine after T.J. Hockenson was traded at the deadline, setting the franchise record for touchdowns from the position in a season. But a closer looks shows some spike weeks which drove that total up, from non-descript names (Shane Zylstra, Brock Wright). In summary, adding a true TE1 or something closer to it may be on the radar this offseason.
Hurst missed a few games and was a background player in the Bengals’ passing game this year, understably so on the latter point with JaMarr Chase, Tee Higgins, etc. commanding targets from Joe Burrow. But he did top 50 receptions for the second time in his career, and the second time in the last three seasons (52, for 414 yards with two touchdowns in 13 games).
Hurst won’t be breaking the bank upon hitting the open market again in March, and Spotrac has him projected for another one-year deal at less than $4 million. He’s more a receiver than a blocker, but he’s not a huge liability as a blocker. Pro Football Focus has graded him well in particular as a pass blocker.
The Lions ask their tight ends to block a fair amount, so that blocking ability will be a big factor in their evaluation of Hurst as a possible free agent target. In case, the idea of bolstering the talent in the tight end room puts him somewhere on Detroit’s radar as the calendar moves toward free agency.