Report: Falcons believe they can re-sign Austin Hooper

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Several teams are targeting the Falcons for pieces that may help their run to the playoffs. Atlanta has started 1-6 and seems to be staring a rebuild in the face despite a roster that is littered with talent. The vultures began by swooping in on Mohamed Sanu this morning. New England acquired him for a second-round pick, which is a nice haul for the Falcons, who already have Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and might have been forced to cut or trade Sanu in the offseason because of their lack of cap space.

Another player teams are fond of is tight end, Austin Hooper. The 24-year-old has improved in each season, becoming a Pro-Bowler for the first time in 2018, catching 71 balls for 660 yards, and he’s been even better this year. Hooper is 11th among all pass-catchers in receiving yards with 526 and second among tight ends through seven games. He also leads the Falcons, and all tight ends in receptions with 46. At such a ripe age, playing a position where there are only so many explosive players, Hooper is about to become the latest player on the Falcons offense to receive a massive raise.

The problem is Atlanta doesn’t have much money to spend. Even with the trade of Sanu, they are looking at being over the cap next year with their current roster. That’s possible because players like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, and others will all be receiving healthy pay bumps. The Falcons can make some cuts and restructure contracts to give themselves some wiggle room, but if they choose to pay Hooper, they will be shopping at The Dollar Tree for the rest of the offseason. If the team feels like that money is better off allocated elsewhere – like let’s say the defensive line – they should heavily consider dealing Hooper for the right offer, which would likely be a late second or early third.

However, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, the Falcons believe they can re-sign Hooper even with the current cap dilemma they face going into next season.

There’s a high chance Hooper will become the highest-paid tight end in the league. If not, he’ll come very close to it. Is he worth that money? Possibly. But there’s also the possibility he is thriving in the tight end friendly system that Dirk Koetter runs and might be having a bit of an outlier year. The Falcons also have more significant problems on both sides of the ball than targets for Matt Ryan. With limited funds available this offseason, whoever the Falcons’ GM is this spring is going to have to make some franchise-altering decisions – for better or for worse.

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