The Atlanta Falcons have plenty of questions when it comes to free agents this offseason. Perhaps the biggest question is, what’s going on with Austin Hooper?
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a disappointing season, finishing the season at 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. Going into the offseason, many assumed, me included, there would be changes made among the coaches, namely the head coach and offensive coordinator. Those assumptions were unfound when it was announced Dan Quinn and Dirk Kotter would be returning to the team for another season. Now, the focus can shift to free agency and the NFL Draft. With the draft still far off, the spotlight has been thrown on some of the notable free agents on the roster. Possibly, the most important being Austin Hooper and his future.
Despite an injury-shortened season, Austin Hooper is coming off his best season as a pro. In his fourth year with the Falcons, Hooper played in 13 games, starting in 10 of the games. In those 13 games, Hooper posted 75 catches for 787 and 6 touchdowns. All of those numbers are career-highs for Hooper. Now, the Falcons have to decide whether to break Hooper off with a big payday or let him walk to another team.
Thomas Dimitroff made news while at the Senior Bowl when he was asked about Hooper and his contract negotiations. Dimitroff used the phrase, “trudging along” in regards to the Hooper talks. While it’s easy to read into that as a negative comment, it’s impossible to know what Dimitroff is really saying. He could be simply using a hardline for the negotiations. Or, Dimitroff could be giving us a hint at what’s to come, simply trying to ready Falcons fan for the eventual exit of Hooper. For now, it’s too early to read into the comments too deep.
Just a few days after the Dimitroff comments, Austin Hooper made his own statement. While at the Pro Bowl, getting ready for this weekend’s game, a reporter asked Hooper about his situation with the Falcons. Hooper made it very clear that the Falcons have yet to make him an offer. No off whatsoever. While that lines up with what Dimitroff was saying, Hooper stated, ” I did my part, ended up here at the Pro Bowl. If the organization wants me, they’ll offer me. I still haven’t received an offer from them. If and when they’re ready, they know who to hit and I’ll let my representation and the representation of the Falcons handle it.”
When it comes to Austin Hooper, the only thing that can be predicted is the Hooper will be making a lot of money this offseason. Where that money comes from is still up in the air, whether that’s the Falcons or another team. Hooper is right, he’s earned his payday. Now, we just have to wait to see where it comes from.