NFL Free Agency Primer: Austin Hooper

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. As the new league year approaches, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Austin Hooper

Tennessee Titans tight end Austin Hooper doesn't have the profile he once did. After two Pro Bowls in his first four years with the Atlanta Falcons, the Cleveland Browns made him one of the league's highest-paid tight ends in 2020. He never lived up to that contract, but teams willing to see past those disappointing years in Cleveland will find a productive, reliable pass catcher: he nabbed 41 receptions for 444 yards at an efficient 7.4 yards per target last season and won't turn 29 years old until October.

The Fit:

Hooper is an athletic, mobile pass-catching tight end who can give quarterbacks a big target and offers some yards after the catch. Though he isn't an elite blocker, he has been a part of effective run games in the past: the Titans finished 13th in rushing yards in 2022, and his Browns were fourth in 2021 and third in 2020. He's unlikely to ever be a star again, but he can find a place in a balanced offense that lacks a viable pass-catching threat at tight end.

The Cost:

Hooper played last season on a one-year, $6 million deal. He was solid but didn't set the world on fire, so he probably can't expect too significant an upgrade this time around. He probably deserves a contract that exceeds C.J. Uzomah's three-year, $24 million pact with the New York Jets, but the lingering disappointment of his time with the Browns will probably keep him from getting into the $10+ million per year range.

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