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Reports: Chicago, Green Bay, and Washington interested in Austin Hooper

All three teams have ample cap space and a big need for an offensive playmaker.

Atlanta Falcons v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We have been watching the Austin Hooper saga since the offseason. Hooper turned into one of the league’s most consistent tight ends and an important part of Atlanta’s offense. Despite limited cap space, most believed the Falcons would make sure a deal would happen.

Then came concerning statements from Arthur Blank. Then projections that Hooper will reset the tight end market. Then, finally, the team brass saying Hooper, and others, will become free agents.

Players rarely return to their team after leaving for free agency, especially not when they are the top free agent at that position. With the Falcons deep in cap hell, nearly any team can outspend the Falcons and give Hooper the premium he has earned.

Three teams have already entered to do exactly that, per reports.

The Bears are not a preferred destination, but Hooper could turn into Mitch Trubisky’s most-trusted receiver. While PFF highlighted the fact that Hooper was not asked to do a lot in Atlanta, this may work out well for a Bears offense lacking consistency. Hooper is not a Travis Kelce deep threat but few others are. If they want to help Trubisky, Hooper can be that elite intermediate option.

This is interesting as new coach Ron Rivera has always relied on a top tight end while in Carolina and Washington has about $60 million in available cap space. Dwayne Haskins could use a reliable target with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis gone. Again, Hooper can be a reliable target that keeps the offense moving.

Former Falcons quarterback coach Matt LaFleur is stepping with interest in Hooper. Jimmy Graham has been a bust in Green Bay and LaFleur has some experience with Hooper while in Atlanta. Considering the importance of the tight end in that offensive scheme, they are likely to be strong competitors for Hooper.

As for the Falcons, the reported interest should only confirm that Hooper will not return. Both teams have a much stronger need for an offensive weapon and have more spending money to get a deal done. No way Atlanta can come close to matching what these teams are able to offer.