The #Falcons are planning to allow starters TE Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell to test free agency, GM Thomas Dimitroff said today. The likelihood is that both players receive large deals in free agency, but Atlanta hasn’t ruled out keeping them for the right price.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 25, 2020
The Patriots traditionally don’t make a big splash in free agency, but it’s a myth to say they never do. They gave Antonio Brown a 1 year $15 million deal last year, the $65 million deal they gave to Stephon Gilmore in 2017, the Revis deal in 2014, Danny Amendola in 2013, and of course the disaster that was the Adalius Thomas contract in 2007. So while I don’t expect them to make a huge move, especially because of the precarious cap space situation with Tom Brady’s contract, but don’t put it past them.
These are uncharted waters for the Patriots, who haven’t had to think about the tight end position since they drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2010. Obviously Hernandez had his own demons, but Gronkowski was a staple for the team for a decade. The biggest question mark was always “how long will Gronk be out for?” rather than “who is going to be our tight end?” Last year the team seemingly thought they could coax one more year out of the big fella as they waited on baited breath until Gronk finally announced his retirement (late) and the Pats missed out on legitimate replacements like Jared Cook.
So this is really the first year the Patriots are fully IN on the tight end market and I can’t think of a better guy to take over than Austin Hooper. Despite my all-time bad break in missing the fantasy football playoffs last season I did have the wherewithal to roster Austin Hooper yet again. I have watched him closely over the past few years. To put it simply, Hooper has been a stud and only has continued to get better as the team around him continued to deteriorate.
- 75 receptions 787 yards 6 TDs
- 71 receptions 660 yards 4 TDs
- 49 receptions 526 yards 3TDs
- 19 receptions 271 yards 3 TDs
Hooper finished 6th among tight ends in fantasy points last year, while ranking 5th in receptions, 6th in yards, and 4th in TDs. Travis Kelce is a much flashier player, but Hooper is a guy I would take tomorrow. He did miss three games last year with a sprained MCL, but it wasn’t an injury that seemed to hamper him when he returned as he had 7 catches in each of the last two games.
With all the top tight ends in the league earning $9-$10 million per year, expect that to be the starting point for Hooper. However that could jump a bit if the Chargers do franchise Hunter Henry, leaving Hooper as the de facto No. 1 guy on the open market. Yahoo Sports noted that “Salary-cap analyst Joel Corry predicts free agent TE Austin Hooper will command at least a four-year, $44 million contract.” So it may be a stretch for the Pats financially, but they reportedly considered trading for him last year, and it is a crystal clear area of need.
Not to mention Hooper Drives the Boat t-shirts would sell themselves in Massachusetts so I would really appreciate that as well.