Things between the Atlanta Falcons and Austin Hooper have not been moving forward. While Arthur Blank previously said Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett will be Falcons for life, when asked about Hooper he has pointed to tough problems with the cap. Just a few weeks ago, Hooper said he has yet to receive an offer from the Falcons.
It sounded like there had been no discussions. Keeping Hooper is definitely possible, but not without some more roster moves. The Falcons are also desperately over-invested in the offense, thanks in part to top deals for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Jake Matthews. Thanks also must be given to failed deals given to Devonta Freeman, Jamon Brown, Ty Sambrailo, and James Carpenter.
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure spoke to former agent and current cap analyst Joel Corry about Hooper. Another problem Corry expects Hooper to reset the market.
Corry foreshadowed how a Hooper deal might look. ”Let’s say like $44 million over four years, and totally guarantee the first two years at $26.5 million,” Corry said.
Corry notes that the tight end market has not changed since Jimmy Graham’s deal with the Green Bay Packers in 2018 that averaged $10 million per year. Graham was coming off a few down years with the Seattle Seahawks, while Hooper has only improved each of the last two seasons.
While $10 million may not feel like a lot of money for an impact starter, the lack of comparable players hitting free agency suggests Hooper can easily hit $11 million, if not more.
While Corry downplays Atlanta’s ability to pay for Hooper, the bigger problem is if the Falcons can pay Hooper and make moves on defense. Make no mistake that the Falcons can free up money to pay Hooper tomorrow. However, Hooper’s deal will require some cap moves and will prevent some new defensive additions.