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Austin Hooper contract talks do not appear to be moving swiftly

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Nothing we’ve heard to this point has been encouraging, but it is still reasonably early.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Austin Hooper figured to be the priority of the offseason for the Atlanta Falcons. The team had suggested so, however faintly, and he also happened to be a 25-year-old tight end coming off one of the finest seasons of his career, playing for an offensive coordinator that appreciated the position a great deal.

The pieces added up, and it’s still quite possible that Hooper gets his big deal in Atlanta. Everything we’ve seen and heard thus far in the offseason has not been positive, however.

That continued today with Thomas Dimitroff. In between gushing about defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw and teasing the possibility of a draft day trade, the Falcons’ general manager suggested things might not be going swimmingly. A fan of the English language if there ever was one, he suggested the Falcons were “trudging” through contract talks, and the word choice is likely not an accident.

If the Falcons aren’t going to franchise Hooper and talks are not going particularly well, where does that leave things? With close to two months to go, there’s still ample time for the posturing to end from both sides and a deal to be hammered out, but the early talks are clearly not going swimmingly or we’d hear more optimism.

I still think a deal will get done, because Hooper is a player the Falcons prize and Hooper and Matt Ryan have done good work together. If Atlanta’s simply not planning to pay a premium for production at tight end with all their other needs, though, then Hooper is going to wind up playing for someone else and the Atlanta offense is going to be considerably diminished in 2020.

We’ll see what happens, but at the moment I am choosing not to feel overly vexed.