Losing Hayden Hurst hurts the Carolina Panthers, but it hurts their pocketbook even more, because they have to pay him the Guaranteed $13 Million Dollars

Carolina Panthers to release former first-round pick
from Pro Football Rumors with Sam Robinson and from YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

Hayden Hurst suffered a concussion that kept him from playing throughout the season’s second half. A report of the veteran tight end suffering post-traumatic amnesia surfaced.

Hurst is now set to be released, illustrating the importance of fully guaranteed money. A year after signing Hurst to a three-year deal, the Panthers are moving on, according to The Athletic’s Joseph Person. The Panthers did give Hurst an option to remain on the team at a reduced salary, but Person adds the former first-round pick declined the pay-cut option.

Despite Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki being franchise-tagged in 2022, Hurst collected last year’s top free agent tight end contract — a three-year, $21.75M deal. That came with $13M fully guaranteed. Hurst’s deal includes No additional injury guarantees, but that $13M is certainly important in a transaction like this. Hurst missed last season’s final eight games due to the concussion he suffered against the Bears.

Because this transaction is being tabbed as one set to occur at the start of the 2024 league year, it is safe to assume Carolina will use a post-June 1 designation here. Even in that capacity, the team will only save $2.1M while incurring more than $7M in dead money. Hurst was set to make $5.75M in 2024 base salary. He will be released before a $1.85M roster bonus vest on March 16.

A former minor league baseball player, Hurst returned to football and crafted a first-round prospect resume at South Carolina. The Ravens took him in the 2018 first round, but after seeing third-round pick Mark Andrews become an immediate impact player, the team traded Hurst to the Falcons in 2020. Hurst and Kyle Pitts teamed up in 2021, but seeing as the Falcons used a No. 4 overall pick on Pitts, it did not make Hurst a priority. The Bengals signed Hurst to a one-year deal in 2022, and he served as an auxiliary Joe Burrow option on a team that came close to booking a second straight Super Bowl trip.

After Hurst’s father revealed the above-referenced post-traumatic amnesia diagnosis, the tight end described that label as worse than it sounded. Hurst tweeted last year he does not remember “up to 4 hours after the game (against the Bears).” The 30-year-old pass catcher was allowed to remain in the game following the hit, being placed in the protocol after the contest.

Part of a poor Panthers offense in 2023, Hurst does not stand to do too well on this year’s market. The $13M guarantee number softens the blow. Hurst surpassed 25 receiving yards in just two games last season. He does have a 571-yard season (2020) on his resume and attracted the Panthers’ attention after a 414-yard Bengals campaign. Hurst joins Jonnu Smith, Noah Fant and Hunter Henry as the top names on this year’s market. The Texans just re-signed Schultz.