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Falcons pick up TE Kyle Pitts' fifth-year option

The 2021 first-round draft pick's fate in Atlanta has been decided for the near future. 

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons picked up tight end Kyle Pitts' fifth-year option, the team announced Monday. Pitts is now locked through the 2025 season.

Pitts was the Falcons' No. 4 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Falcons therefore needed to decide on Pitts' rookie contract fate by May 2, a league-wide deadline for that crop of first-round picks. The decision ultimately had to come before Pitts' fourth year.

So, now Pitts has at least two more seasons in Atlanta ahead of him as 2024 continues.

"He's the mayor of Atlanta," Falcons head coach Raheem Morris said in March at the Annual League Meetings. "I think he wants to come back and have a highly productive year. I think he is excited about his partnership with some of the guys that we've brought in."

Surely the main guy Morris was referring to is Kirk Cousins. The hope is Cousins will return consistency to the quarterback position for the first time since -- arguably -- Pitts was drafted. Since Pitts joined, he has worked with four different starting quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.

Ryan helped Pitts deliver his best results as a rookie. Pitts had a Pro Bowl season in 2021 with 68 receptions for 1,026 yards and a touchdown. That's 15.1 yards per reception on average. He played in all 17 games, starting 15.

Expectations were high for Pitts in his second season, even amid a QB1 change, but a season-ending PCL/MCL injury in the Falcons' Week 11 win over the Chicago Bears halted those plans. Pitts had 28 receptions for 356 yards and two receptions in 10 starts.

Pitts returned to action in 2023, starting 15 of his 17 game appearances. Whether or not he was at full health was questioned but dismissed throughout the season. Either way, Pitts had 53 receptions for 667 yards and three touchdowns.

Unlike last year, Pitts and his knee should be fully good to go this preseason.

"I don't think we have any limitations on Kyle and what he can do," Morris said.

Now, per league rules, the Falcons can offer Pitts a contract extension before his fifth season (2025) since they did not do so before his fourth. A recent example of this in action can be seen in what the Falcons did with offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom. He was their No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Falcons picked up his fifth-year option in 2022 and then offered him a contract extension in 2023. He's now contracted with the team through 2028.

If following a similar timeline, then Pitts will have the 2024 season to prove his long-term worth. Otherwise, he'd become a free agent come 2026.

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