Atlanta Falcons: Backup Tight End is the Team’s Only Upgrade

Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Justin Hardy (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons surprisingly resigned wide receiver Justin Hardy. Many people including myself, thought that Hardy would be moving on, mainly due to a lack of production. Hardy has great hands but struggles to get separation. He only has 76 catches for 751 yards and nine touchdowns in his four-year career. Even in his best season 2016, he only had 21 catches for 203 yards and four touchdowns. He did have a career high 221 yards in 2017. Hardy caught only 14 passes for 133 yards  last season. He was primarily used as a blocker for his willingness to mix it up. He received a career low receiving grade of 58.4 by Pro Football Focus. Justin was also used as the Falcons primary punt returner. He was mostly ineffective, returning 20 punts for just 147 yards. He averaged a paltry 7.4 yards per return, with a long of only 18 yards. His overall grade was 60.5, the second lowest of his career. Kit Anderson here at ATL All Day covered the Hardy signing. 

Instead the Falcons moved on from wide receiver Marvin Hall, who signed a one year deal with the Chicago Bears. Hall is much faster than Justin Hardy and had a tendency to make big plays, though he was seldom targeted. He made ten catches for 149 yards with one touchdown. He converted five first downs, but had a critical drop that would have resulted in a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hall was also the Falcons primary kick returner last season. He returned 26 kicks for 616 yards. He averaged 23.7 yards per return and had a long of 53 yards, but he did not score a touchdown. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 55.8 for the season and a grade of 56.8 and a receiver.