This will come as no shock, but Thomas Dimitroff has made it official: Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell will hit free agency, receiving the opportunity to gauge their market:
— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) February 25, 2020
This does not necessarily mean these gentlemen will not return as Falcons, but it significantly decreases their chances and does have implications for both players. If the price is right, they could be back per Ian Rapoport, but this does not seem likely:
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
For Campbell, this means that the exploratory talks he had with Atlanta earlier this offseason went nowhere, and the parties are far apart on terms. Otherwise, these comments would not be made publicly.
As far as Hooper goes, we know he is yet to receive an offer from the Falcons, and this means the team will not be using the franchise tag to retain him. This had been considered unrealistic for some time, but now it is official. He should earn at least $10 million per season on the open market.
I would say these comments from Dimitroff are very indicative that these two will not be around for the new uniforms. Wes Schweitzer will reportedly be allowed to test free agency as well. The Falcons are in a tight spot with the salary cap and have been unable to come to a common ground with these players to this point, and time is running out. They will almost certainly get outbid on the open market for all three of these guys, but especially Hooper and Campbell, who are primed for substantial paydays. The reality is that while the Falcons can maneuver around to create some cap room, they still possess minimal cap space compared to almost every other franchise, and there are a handful of teams with over $50 million available to spend this offseason.
The writing looks to be on the wall.