Atlanta Falcons should sit Austin Hooper for the season
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper, reportedly, will be out of play for roughly a month. With the Falcons sitting at 2-7 on the season entering Week 11, it’s almost a guarantee that there will be no postseason for Atlanta this year.
Even if the Atlanta Falcons end up at 9-7, they would need a lot of help and magic to win the NFC South. The main purpose for these next seven games will simply be to play spoiler and that is not a reason to play Hooper anymore this season.
Austin Hooper suffered an MCL sprain in his knee during the Atlanta Falcons win in New Orleans this past week. If the reports are true, we probably won’t see Hooper again until mid-December at best. Dan Quinn used Wednesday afternoon to talk down the rumors of Hooper being out of action for that long.
Even so, what is the point for Hooper to continue on with a lost 2019 season?
Austin Hooper becomes a free agent in the offseason and is the biggest reason why he needs to sit. With Hooper setting himself up to get a major contract in the offseason, whether it is from Atlanta or not, he is only hurting himself by playing.
Through 10 weeks of action, Hooper sits tied with Travis Kelce for most receptions (56) and is second to Kelce in yards (608) among all NFL tight ends. There is no denying he will be one of the hottest players on the market.
The Atlanta Falcons are determined to make cap space available to sign Hooper in the offseason. At the trade deadline, the falcons tried to shop around Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant, but to no avail. The Lions pulled out of the Freeman deal at the last minute. So it shouldn’t be too far off to assume that the Falcons are looking to do the same with both players in the offseason to, again, create cap space.
Trading or releasing Trufant before June first will result in $4.95m in cap savings. Trading or releasing him after June first will result in $10.75m in cap savings.
Releasing or trading Freeman before June first will result in $3.5m in cap savings. A savings of $6.5m would occur if we traded or released him after June first.
Additionally, having Matt Schaub retire would free up an additional $2million.
Above all, it would be wise for the falcons to sit Austin Hooper out to prevent another injury, and make moves in the offseason to resign the hottest guy on the market. Hooper playing in any of the final seven games doesn’t add any benefit. However, it does open up options to add in new packages for the offense to include the young players who need the additional playing time.