On Tuesday afternoon the Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons will let tight end Austin Hooper, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and guard Wes Schweitzer look at other options by testing the free agency market, however, he didn’t rule out resigning any of them.
But, it looks like Hooper is already long gone and out the door. Moments after the Falcons announced the news, Hooper posted a photo on his Instagram that seemed to be saying farewell to Atlanta.
This photo clearly says he will be moving on to another team.
Fans were quick to leave comments regarding how much he will be missed, and then all of a sudden they were deleted and Hooper changed the photo options so nobody could comment on it.
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Career as a Falcon
Hooper was a third-round pick by the Falcons in the 2016 NFL Draft. His rookie year he showed off how versatile he was both as a receiver and as a blocker. Each season has only gone up from his rookie year. 2019 marked his best season statistically where he set new records in receptions, yards, and touchdowns as a Falcon. And he became Atlanta’s number one option at tight end and a top-three receiver overall.
In a total of 59 games, Hooper has been targeted 277 times. The 6’4″, 255 lbs tight end has caught 214 of them (with a 77.3% catch rate), totaling 2,244 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also been a Pro Bowler in the last two seasons.
The Good Ones Go if You Wait Too Long
The Falcons couldn’t come to a negotiation with Hooper soon enough so now he will be looking at his other options—and he has plenty.
Throughout his time as a Falcon, Hooper’s reception, yardage and touchdown totals have only increased in each of his four seasons. The two-time Pro Bowler missed three games last season, yet still managed to rake in 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns.
The Patriots are a big name shopping for Hooper right now considering Rob Gronkowski hung up his jersey. 25-year-old Hooper has a ways to go until he is up to Gronk’s level, but he definitely has the ability to be just as good in the long run.
Another team supposedly eyeing Hooper is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers will be actively searching for a tight end come draft day as it comes to a surprise for many this season of the release of long-time veteran Greg Olsen. And Olsen has already been snatched up by the Seahawks.
Da Bears are another team who are shopping for Hooper, however, the only thing that could be stopping the Bears, and anything other teams is the big factor that Hooper’s projected market value, according to Spotrac, will approach $10 million per season.
That’s a lot of money for anyone’s roster, but Hooper is worth it and one lucky team will see that.