Austin Hooper has proven to be one of the best tight ends in the league over the last two seasons, showing great improvement and allowing himself to become a weapon for the Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately, Hooper may not be an Atlanta Falcon for much longer.
With Austin Hooper in the free-agent market and contract talks seemingly going nowhere with the Atlanta Falcons, one can’t help but feel nervous that Hooper may not be in a Falcons uniform for the foreseeable future.
Several teams will be looking at the tight end position during free agency. For instance, the Carolina Panthers will be in need of a tight end now that Greg Olsen is no longer a Panther. Say, for instance, the Panthers sign Hooper to a deal, what do the Atlanta Falcons do now that they have lost their franchise tight end? Thankfully, there are plenty of options available through free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft.
Hunter Henry is a name that looks very attractive if you’re a member of the Atlanta Falcons organization. He has put up great numbers when healthy, but that’s a glaring issue with Henry, he has a history of injuries. He missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL and missed the first six weeks of the 2019 season with a tibial plateau fracture. When healthy, he is a threat to make great plays and that is something the Atlanta Falcons have to look at if they lose Hooper, regardless of his injury history.
Other options at tight end that the Atlanta Falcons need to look at are Tyler Eifert and Jacob Hollister. Eifert has had a productive career and has proven himself to be a valuable weapon. Hollister came off the bench for the Seattle Seahawks last season when their starting tight end, Will Dissly, went down due to an injury. Either one of these guys would be a good option for the Atlanta Falcons to look at if Hooper walks.
Jaeden Graham could also be a nice option to try out as a starting tight end. When given the opportunity last season, he took advantage. He caught a handful of important passes on third down to convert and keep drives alive and he even had a deep ball touchdown against the Carolina Panthers.
Outside of current NFL players, there are plenty of tight end options available through the NFL Draft including Thaddeus Moss from LSU, Colby Parkinson from Stanford and Hunter Bryant from Washington, just to name a few.
If Hooper walks, it will be a shame because the work he has put in to become a great tight end has paid dividends for him. His determination to work with Matt Ryan to get better has allowed for a deeper connection between the two. If Hooper is no longer an Atlanta Falcon, while unfortunate, it won’t be the end of the world. There’s plenty of other viable options that the Atlanta Falcons can look at.