Whoever wants to sign Austin Hooper this offseason probably will need to really open up their wallet.
Hooper likely will be the most coveted tight end in free agency by a considerable margin. In addition to Hooper arguably being the most talented among players at the position bound for the open market, fellow star tight end Hunter Henry is expected to be given the franchise tag by the Los Angeles Chargers. Furthermore, any team looking for considerable tight end help probably shouldn’t bank on receiving it through the draft given the nature of this year’s class.
So, what kind of contract will Hooper likely be looking at? NFL insider Tom Pelissero offered his projection in a column for NFL.com.
“In a year with few headliners at the non-QB skill positions, and Hunter HenryÂ likely to be taggedÂ by theÂ Los Angeles ChargersÂ absent a long-term deal,Â Austin Hooper (Falcons) should be one of free agency’s big winners after consecutive 70-catch seasons,” Pelissero wrote. “Look for Hooper to reset a tight end market that needed resetting, with an APY over $10 million.”
That’s a steep number, especially for a fairly cash-strapped team like the New England Patriots, who arguably need a boost at tight end more so than any other team across the league. At least one pundit also probably would argue Hooper, whose advanced stats don’t jump off the page, isn’t worth a massive payday.
But in hopes of bolstering their currently mediocre group of offensive weapons — as well as their case in the Tom Brady sweepstakes — it might be worth it for the Patriots to finagle their finances and work out a deal.