Over the weekend, seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones finally concluded a 10-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons as he got traded to the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Mike Vrabel and his men sent 2022 second-round and 2023 fourth-round picks in exchange for the veteran pass-catcher along with a 2023 sixth-round selection.
The blockbuster trade will certainly have a domino effect on both teams as several players will see either increased or decreased roles for 2021. One of them is Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts who is already expected by many to have a promising rookie campaign next season. With Jones’ departure, the Florida standout will definitely gain more opportunities to have an even bigger contribution for Atlanta moving forward.
Here are three predictions for Pitts after the Jones blockbuster trade:
3. Pitts will lead the offense alongside wide receiver Calvin Ridley
With Jones already gone, the Falcons can’t waste any time and will now have to slate their best players on the starting lineup in order to remain competitive on the field next season. This means that Pitts will be counted upon as one of the main producers on offense alongside pass-catcher Calvin Ridley, now that they are set to miss the numbers that Jones previously provided on the offensive end.
Ridley ended his third season in the league with 1,374 receiving yards on 90 receptions along with nine touchdowns through 15 games played. His numbers allowed him to land a spot in the second-team All-Pro last season and it is expected that he will reach greater heights as the team’s new WR1.
At the same time just like Ridley, Pitts will also play a key role with the Falcons and be part of the team’s core as his career progresses. The rookie tight end will definitely have a huge contribution for Atlanta in the years to come and it will start with him already carrying a huge load on offense next season.
2. The rookie will exceed 65 receptions for Atlanta
Certainly enough, the departure of Jones will open up more balls sent to Kyle Pitts’ way next season. In 2020, the veteran wide receiver racked up 51 catches for 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns despite playing in nine appearances due to a hamstring injury.
With Jones’ relocation to the Titans, the number of passes that he previously received will now be split between Pitts and Ridley who is also projected to have another productive campaign in 2021. With only the two of them sharing the majority of the balls being thrown by quarterback Matt Ryan, it wouldn’t be a reach to say that Pitts can record at least 65 touches next season.
1. Pitts will be in contention for the 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award
Barring any major injuries, Pitts is expected to have a productive rookie season, especially for Atlanta who doesn’t have the most talented team out there. Of course, tallying stellar numbers would then give him a great chance of earning accolades in just his rookie season.
If Pitts manages to perform well on the field and live up to expectations, he will already be a surefire inclusion to the All-Rookie Team, given that there isn’t any other rookie tight end that is better than him as of this moment.
Aside from this, he will also be giving himself a good chance to compete for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award which will also depend on how his fellow 2021 draftees will perform in the upcoming season. Given the role that he is expected to have with the Falcons, it would be safe to say that the rookie tight end is in a good position to be in the mix for the award next season.
Kyle Pitts will definitely miss the presence of having a veteran teammate like Julio Jones but the latter’s departure will ultimately allow him to make a greater impact in the team’s offensive attack moving forward.