Dimitroff: Franchise tagging Hooper “probably not realistic” for the Falcons

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The Falcons will have to do some maneuvering of the cap to bring back Pro Bowl Tight End Austin Hooper. And while it is still early, there have been no negotiations quite yet, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

Hooper should have a robust market in free agency, as any team would receive a massive boost in production at the tight end spot with a signing of him or Hunter Henry. The former Stanford Cardinal may very well be the top option, given his growth over the past two seasons that has led to back-to-back Pro-Bowl appearances and his superior durability. Despite the lack of negotiations to this point, it does seem as if re-signing Hooper is a priority after holding on to him at the trade deadline, but currently, the Falcons only have $6.7 million in cap space, via Over The Cap.

The Falcons do have the option to franchise-tag Hooper, but the problem with that is the bar is set for $10.7 million this season, $4 million more than the amount of cap space the team has right now:

Dimitroff did mention, however, that it is an option. The Falcons may very well franchise-tag him for leverage in negotiations, with no real intention of having him play under it until they come to terms on a long-term deal, as they did with Grady Jarrett last year. It seems as if Atlanta does want Hooper back, and I am sure he would love to stay after the rapport he has built with Matt Ryan over the years. If he does return, it will likely be on a new deal that is backloaded, which should make both parties satisfied moving forward.

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