It is essentially a foregone conclusion that Austin Hooper will be playing in another uniform next season, and I am not talking about the Falcons’ new uniforms, either. The team is allowing their Pro-Bowl tight end to test free agency, and many, including Mike Silver of Sports Illustrated, believe he is primed to reset the market at his position:
As free agency approaches, TE Austin Hooper is poised to reset the market after four productive years with the Falcons… pic.twitter.com/bp1M4ugaR9
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 11, 2020
In this clip, Silver, who recently spent some time with the free-agent tight end, says that Hooper anticipated being a Falcon for life as recently as October or November and was getting the vibe that Atlanta may come forward with a contract extension.
This offer never came, and Silver believes they could have retained Hooper “for far less” than he will now receive on the open market if they had tried to extend him. Hooper reportedly has “no hard feelings” towards Atlanta, but it seems his days are done with the franchise.
At his current rate, Hooper is not affordable for the Falcons, and unfortunately, we will never know what “far less” means. Years of mismanaging the cap have caught up with Atlanta, and with so many needs to fill, Thomas Dimitroff likely felt their hands were tied regardless of a slight hometown discount.