The Los Angeles Rams got a key offensive weapon back in Week 5 when All-Pro Cooper Kupp returned to the field. Kupp could only do so much against the Eagles as the Rams failed to score after halftime. Could another trade with the Falcons help solve LA’s second half inconsistencies?
Atlanta has been solid to start the season as they’ve jumped out to a 3-2 record, good for second-best in the NFC South. That positive record in the standings has come despite minimal usage from tight end Kyle Pitts. If Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith won’t use the third-year player, I’d have to expect Sean McVay and Les Snead would pounce on the opportunity if the price is right.
Pitts was touted as a generational talent coming out of Florida but to put it mildly, has been underutilized in Atlanta. Ahead of a Week 2 matchup between the Rams and Falcons in 2022, I had done a Q&A with Kevin Knight of SB Nation’s Falcons blog The Falcoholic. I asked Knight how Smith could get his tight end more involved. Pitts caught two of seven targets for 19 yards against the Saints in the season opener. This was Knight’s response at the time:
“I have no explanation for the team’s decisions regarding Pitts, it boggles the mind. He’s the type of player you simply have to target, because there’s a good chance he can make a low-percentage play happen far more often than with any other receiver.”
Nothing has really changed for Pitts ever since I sent that question over to Knight. For a player deemed a matchup nightmare for opposing offenses, he’s hardly ever targeted. In his 32 career games, Pitts has been targeted at least 10 times twice. His most recent such game came against the Texans last week.
In week 5, Kyle Pitts had 7 catches on 11 targets with 87 receiving yards.— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) October 11, 2023
It was his 2nd career game with 10+ targets, and his 1st one since week 5 of 2021. pic.twitter.com/kMhOXv2JB9
Up and down quarterback play in Atlanta aside, that is coaching malpractice at its finest. There is zero excuse not to feed a freakish athlete like Pitts. The Florida product was the highest drafted tight end in NFL history when the Falcons made him the fourth overall pick in ‘21. Besides a lack of targets, Pitts has just three receiving touchdowns to his name.
I’m sorry, but whenever you have a 6’6 player who can run a 4.44 40-yard dash, you throw him the damn ball. Imagine all the targets he’d receive in the red zone but according to Arthur Smith logic that would be a definite hell no. INEXCUSABLE ARTHUR! Slow starts have also plagued Pitts throughout his brief NFL career. He bounced back during his rookie campaign when he was named to his lone Pro Bowl.
Kyle Pitts Stats through the first 5 games each season of his career…— ATL Will (@ATLWill_) October 10, 2023
2021- 308 yards 1 TD finished with 1026 yards and 1 TD
2022- 150 yards 0 TD finished with 356 yards and 2 TDs after missing the rest of the season due to injury
2023- 208 yards 0 TD….
Not a good start… pic.twitter.com/OO3vqE6Wyw
Pitts has basically been playing second fiddle to veteran tight end Jonnu Smith in Atlanta. According to Pro Football Reference, Smith has 27 targets to Pitts’ 32 but has three more receptions (21) than the former first-rounder (18). Either Pitts isn’t making the most of his early opportunities or he’s being slightly pushed aside in the offense. My vote is the latter.
Pitts has no doubt been a disappointment through his first three seasons. However, I will note that it’s premature to call him a bust. From my understanding, the majority of Pitts’ problems on the Falcons stem from a lack of usage. With all the capital Atlanta has spent on offensive skill players the past three drafts, something appears very off with this team and how the coaching staff utilizes those players.
Look no further than insanely gifted running back Bijan Robinson who was the eighth overall pick back in April. Robinson has played all five games and has 67 rushing attempts while backup rusher Tyler Allgeier has 62 attempts in the same span. The Texas product is clearly the better rusher as he has 173 more rushing yards than Allgeier on five more attempts. Again, if you draft skill players that high, why don’t you use them more? Particularly when one of those players makes folks miss at an absurd rate.
Pitts would be an intriguing piece for McVay’s offense and I’d expect LA would deploy him more in the red zone. I guarantee the tight end would have more than three measly touchdowns in Los Angeles under a more established offensive mind.
The likelihood of the Falcons giving up on Pitts not even three years into his career is quite low. Either way, it might be worth giving the Falcons a call just to see whether he’d be available. I wouldn’t anticipate LA would have to give up much to acquire his services. No matter what happens between now and the trade deadline, remember these three little words:
Free Kyle Pitts.