The Falcons are in quite a dilemma when it comes to Austin Hooper. The team is strapped for cap space, and while they undoubtedly could make the numbers work for their Pro Bowl tight end to return, they have so many other needs that at this point, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Well, this is only one reporter’s opinion, but Tom Pelissero of NFL.com and the NFL Network believes that the tight end market could completely reset — kind of like the middle linebacker market did last season — and that Hooper could be among the players netting $13 million annually in his next contract. Check out the video here:
Could the tight end market skyrocket this offseason as the middle linebacker market did last year? Don't be surprised, with George Kittle, Austin Hooper, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz among those coming due for new deals. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/mVND1JlpCY
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 6, 2020
We will see how things play out, but that is well out of the Falcons price range, and frankly, it should be. Hopefully, this tight end “reset” will take place next season when Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce hit the market. However, with no obvious internal option to start, the Falcons probably need to kick the tires on guys like Hunter Henry or Eric Ebron in free agency just in case, or they could be stuck relying on a rookie tight end.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, all it takes is one tight end hungry team with a ton of cap space to lure away Hooper. They still have some leverage, as they can franchise tag him and try to move him, or let him play on it, which Thomas Dimitroff said was not likely with the figure being in excess of where it was last season at $10.4 million. However, if the Falcons feel they need his services for one more season and that is what the market dictates, the franchise tag could become more and more of a possibility.