General manager Thomas Dimitroff said Wednesday there are "no updates" on Hooper's contract discussions with the Falcons, Kelsey Conway of Atlanta's official site reports. Dimitroff's statement is actually an update of sorts, and he also used the term "trudging along" when reporters asked him about the tight end. Hooper enjoyed a breakout season in the final year of his rookie contract, potentially positioning himself as the top tight end available in free agency. However, the franchise tag is arguably a bargain from the Falcons' perspective, as the number -- expected to be around $10.7 million -- comes from a formula based on the five largest salary cap hits for the position group in each of the past five years. It just so happens that most of the league's premium tight ends in recent seasons -- including Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce -- signed team-friendly extensions that sacrificed upside for security. That reality gives the Falcons some leverage in negotiations, but their dicey cap situation hands the leverage right back to Hooper. Ultimately, the Falcons will have a tough time making other moves unless they allow Hooper to leave or sign him to a long-term deal with a lower cap hit for 2020. As such, the franchise tag likely would be viewed as a bridge for a multi-year contract.
Hooper, who can become a free agent in March, said Monday that the Falcons have yet to engage him in talks about an extension, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "I'm not going to speak on that too much," Hooper said, when asked about his contract situation. "It's a business. I'm open to coming back here. I don't know. ... I haven't received an offer yet. I'm going to let my representation and the representation for the Falcons handle that." Despite missing three games due to a sprained MCL in his knee, Hooper turned in the best season of his four-year career in 2019, posting 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns. Atlanta was able to clear up some cap space over the weekend by restructuring the 2020 contracts of Matt Ryan and Grady Jarrett, so look for the team to apply some of those savings toward a new deal for Hooper.
Hooper caught seven of nine targets for 45 receiving yards during Sunday's 28-22 overtime win against Tampa Bay. Though his yardage output was well below his pre-existing season average of 61.8 receiving yards per game, Hooper collected seven catches for a second consecutive outing during Sunday's finale. The 25-year-old tight end found himself in firm competition for a second consecutive Pro Bowl bid through 10 weeks of the 2019 campaign, but a knee issue subsequently sidelined him for three games, and his production during his first two games back from the injury amounted to just five catches for 52 yards. Hooper rebounded over the final two weeks of the year, however, providing him with additional leverage as he transitions into his first opportunity at free agency during the 2020 offseason.
Hooper snagged seven of nine targets for 82 receiving yards during Sunday's 24-12 win against the Jaguars. Prior to an encouraging Week 16 showing against Jacksonville, Hooper had managed just five catches for 52 yards in his first two games back from a sprained MCL suffered Nov. 10 at New Orleans. Hooper broke out of his brief slump Sunday, garnering his highest number of targets since Week 5 and translating those opportunities into his third-greatest yardage output of 2019. Taking on a Buccaneers defense Week 17 that ranks bottom 10 in receptions (75), receiving yards (899) and touchdowns (seven) allowed to opposing tight ends, Hooper is a high-upside fantasy play for the Falcons' regular-season finale.
Hooper caught three of six targets for 20 receiving yards during Sunday's 29-22 win against San Francisco. The 2018 Pro Bowl tight end found himself on pace for 100 receptions, 1,080 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through the first 10 weeks of the season, but since suffering a sprained MCL against New Orleans on Nov. 10 he has compiled just five catches for 52 yards in appearances over the past two weeks. Though he is an electrifying receiving threat when healthy and did almost reel in a fourth-quarter touchdown grab, Hooper's limited production in his first two games back from injury devalue his outlook. Hooper will have a prime opportunity to rebound against Jacksonville in Week 16 as the Jaguars' defense has surrendered the third-most TE touchdowns thus far in 2019.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||60||46||486||3||21||10.57||66|