The Bengals are starting to find their groove back on offense and adding another playmaker seems very possible ahead of the Oct. 31 trade deadline. That’s why reuniting with a veteran makes a ton of sense.
Cincinnati should call the Panthers, who have the NFL’s worst record (0-6), to inquire about veteran TE Hayden Hurst. Hurst played for the Bengals in 2022, posting 52 catches for 414 yards and two touchdowns. However, the two sides parted ways in the offseason when Carolina offered Hurst a three-year, $21.75M contract.
Hurst hasn’t looked bad in 2023 with 14 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown on the year, but the Panthers may be looking to add draft capital without their 2024 first-round pick and a rough start to the season.
The 30-year-old would instantly upgrade Cincinnati’s tight end room as TE Irv Smith Jr., who signed a one-year deal with the team this offseason, has underwhelmed so far. The Bengals’ four tight ends have combined for just 16 catches for 107 yards and zero touchdowns.
QB Joe Burrow and Hurst displayed a nice connection last year and the veteran tight end may just be the missing piece to the offense. It shouldn’t take more than a late-round pick to acquire the 30-year-old and the biggest question surrounding a potential trade would be the financials.
The Bengals have plenty of money with a little over $12M in cap space, per Over the Cap, but they may not see Hurst in the team’s long-term plans. That’s why it likely let Hurst walk in free agency.
If Cincinnati is interested in bringing back Hurst, it would only help the offense, which ranks as the worst in the league in total yards per game (256.3).