Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Fri 9/18/20 9:35 PM

Hooper caught two of four targets for 22 yards in Thursday's 35-30 win over the Bengals in Week 2.

EDGE Analysis

The Browns threw only 23 times, so targets were limited across the board, but Hooper had two more Thursday than he did in Week 1's loss to the Ravens. The Browns were able to run their offense, designed to lean heavily on the ground game and use tight ends. He was on the field nearly as much as quarterback Baker Mayfield, playing 57 of 58 snaps. Hooper hasn't found the end zone after two games, but was targeted once in the red zone Thursday.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Mon 9/14/20 9:27 PM

With David Njoku (knee) landing on injured reserve, Hooper could see a greater share of targets and snaps Week 2 against the Bengals on Thursday.

EDGE Analysis

Hooper was tops among Cleveland's tight ends with 56 plays (77 percent) but had just two targets in Sunday's loss to the Ravens. It was an unassuming debut for the tight end, who signed a four-year deal worth more than $10 million per during the offseason. More was expected from Hooper in Week 1, but the Browns' offense was in a deep hole early, which altered their game plan. If Cleveland can get into its offense, Hooper should make a more significant contribution.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Sun 9/13/20 9:05 PM

Hooper caught two of two targets for 15 yards in Sunday's 38-6 loss to the Ravens in Week 1.

EDGE Analysis

Hooper was the first player acquisition of new head coach Kevin Stefanski, a disciple of using multiple tight ends, which suggested a big role for him in the offense. But that did not materialize Sunday, which could be attributable to the Browns never getting a chance to work the offense as designed. They played mistake-filled football and fell behind by multiple scores in the second quarter. That led to quarterback Baker Mayfield forcing balls to Odell Beckham. In related news, fellow tight end David Njoku left the game with a knee injury, which could lead to more playing time for Hooper when the Browns face the Bengals in Week 2 on Thursday.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Wed 9/2/20 1:59 PM

Hooper and quarterback Baker Mayfield connected in the red zone during a practice earlier this week, Nathan Zegura of the Browns' official site reports.

EDGE Analysis

Hooper and fellow tight end Harrison Bryant have stood out thus far in training camp, which isn't surprising. Mayfield has a history of targeting tight ends going back to his college days, and it looks like he's found a safety valve in Hooper. The two established chemistry during the offseason, and that continues as they prepare for a Week 1 game against the Ravens. Hooper recorded 146 catches and 10 touchdowns over his final two seasons with the Falcons.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Tue 8/25/20 7:07 PM

Browns offensive coordinator said Hooper and quarterback Baker Mayfield have established an on-field rapport during training camp, Dan Labbe of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

EDGE Analysis

Hooper, who was the first free agent the Browns added during the offseason, spent some time with Mayfield before training camp in an effort to build chemistry. "The more they play together, obviously, the stronger that bond becomes," Van Pelt said. "It is those unwritten, the body language things that you can't really coach and teach, and when two guys get on that same page, and it is tough to stop." Hooper tops the tight end depth chart, and the position group as a whole should see an increase in targets in 2020.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Mon 3/16/20 4:46 PM

Hooper is poised to sign a four-year, $42 million deal with the Browns, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports.

EDGE Analysis

Breer notes that the tight end is in line to earn $23 million over the first two years of the deal, all of which is slated to be guaranteed. With Hooper set to join the mix, David Njoku's volume figures to take a hit. Hooper is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he set career highs in catches (75), yards (787) and TDs (six), while playing 13 games. The money Cleveland plans to give him is a clear indication that he'll be a focal part of the team's passing attack in 2020.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Mon 3/16/20 12:47 PM

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports Hooper has agreed to contract terms with the Browns, while the tight end told Adam Schefter of ESPN that he's "definitely leaning Cleveland."

EDGE Analysis

The first report presents Hooper to Cleveland as a sure thing, while Schefter's report suggests there's still a small degree of uncertainty. With Green Bay and Washington also rumored to have interest in Hooper, the Browns came out firing with a big offer at the very beginning of the "legal tampering" period that opened at 12 p.m. ET on Monday. This is a pretty strong signal that the new leadership in Cleveland doesn't hold David Njoku in high regard, though Browns general manager Andrew Berry suggested in February that he'd likely pick up the tight end's fifth-year option for 2021.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Tue 2/25/20 11:07 AM

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Hooper will be allowed to test the open market, Jason Butt of The Athletic reports.

EDGE Analysis

Dimitroff didn't explicitly rule out the possibility of re-signing the tight end, but it seems like a long shot if the team isn't even willing to use a franchise tag for approximately $10.7 million. Hooper should be able to reach that number for his average annual value on a long-term contract, coming off a breakout 2019 campaign with 787 yards in 13 games. The Falcons have a tough cap situation, but there are plenty of other teams with ample space and a need for a pass-catching TE.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Wed 1/22/20 4:39 PM

GM Thomas Dimitroff said there are "no updates" on Hooper's contract discussions with the Falcons, Kelsey Conway of the team's official website reports.

EDGE Analysis

Dimitroff's "no update" 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 TE 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 TEs 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.

Austin Hooper
TE CLE (9)
Mon 12/30/19 1:20 PM

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."

EDGE Analysis

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.