Skip to main content

Kyle Pitts returned, Jonnu Smith reemerged to lead the Falcons tight ends in 2023 -- Falcons Breakdown

The Falcons almost doubled the receiving yards from their tight ends in 2023 as compared to the previous season. 

Editor's note: The Falcons editorial team of Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Amna Subhan will analyze each position group during the "Falcons Breakdown" series, which evaluates how every position performed in 2023 and what to look for in 2024. Up next, the tight ends.

The Falcons got solid output from the tight end position in 2023, nearly doubling the receiving production from the previous season.

Much of that uptick was attributed to a full season from Kyle Pitts and the resurgence of Jonnu Smith, a combination that accounted for 90.5% of the total 1,380 yards from the Falcons tight ends.

Coming off a season-ending knee injury in his sophomore campaign -- Pitts got hurt in a Week 11 loss to Chicago -- the University of Florida product played in all 17 games. Meanwhile, Smith had recorded a career-high 582 receiving yards and and had three touchdowns in his seventh season.

MyCole Pruitt was the next highest contributor with 110 receiving yards, and Atlanta got glimpses of first-year players John FitzPatrick and Tucker Fisk. FitzPatrick spent the 2022 season on injured reserve and Fisk, listed on the practice squad most of the year, got some game action throughout the season.

2023 production:

Kyle Pitts: 17 game appearances, 15 starts | 667 yards receiving and three touchdowns | 53 catches on 90 targets, 58.9% | 12.6 yards per reception, 39.2 yards per game

Jonnu Smith: 17 game appearances, 6 starts | 582 yards receiving and three touchdowns | 50 catches on 70 targets, 71.4% | 11.6 yards per reception, 34.2 yards per game

MyCole Pruitt: 17 game appearances, 8 starts | 110 yards receiving and one touchdown | Nine catches on 12 targets, 75% | 12.2 yards per reception, 6.5 yards per game

John FitzPatrick: Nine game appearances, zero starts | 12 yards receiving | One catch on a single target

Tucker Fisk: Six game appearances, two starts | Nine yards receiving and one touchdown | One catch on a single target

Who stays: Kyle Pitts, John FitzPatrick, Jonnu Smith

On the bubble: MyCole Pruitt, Tucker Fisk

Biggest offseason question: How will Kyle Pitts look with a full, rehab-free and healthy offseason?

Pitts had a standout rookie season, with over 1,000 yards receiving and a Pro Bowl appearance. The No. 4 overall pick in 2021 only played 10 games in his second season, after he was knocked out with a season-ending knee injury. He tore both his MCL and PCL ligaments, as he revealed in a recent Instagram post.

Following an offseason of surgery and rehab, Pitts appeared in all 17 games and recorded a three touchdowns — all while the Falcons shuffled through a carousel of quarterbacks.

In that same social media post, Pitts declared his upcoming fourth season would be "prolific."

Bonus question: Will Jonnu Smith be on the 2024 roster?

Smith carries a $9 million dollar cap hit and is set to make $6.5 million in base salary, per, if the Falcons keep him on the books.

The veteran tight end previously worked with former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith when they were both a part of the Tennessee Titans. Jonnu Smith credited his former coach for getting him out of a "rough situation in New England."

After the Falcons parted ways with Arthur Smith, Jonnu Smith was asked whether that played into his 2024 plans. Here's what he had to say:

"Yeah, I don't really know. I'm optimistic though. I'm gonna continue to be the pro that I've been my entire career...We'll see how the logistics of it all looks contract-wise. I'll see if, schematically, we will fit and be a match. There's a lot of things that can go on ahead, that's kind of water under the bridge right now. So, you kinda got to take it one day at a time."

Related Content