The Falcons used their 2019 offseason to sign three of their top players to lucrative extensions. Partially because of this, their 2020 offseason may be a bit quieter. While the team has identified multiple players it would like to retain, GM Thomas Dimitroff does not have much cap space with which to work.
Austin Hooper loomed as a trade candidate before this season’s deadline, but the Falcons held onto him and identified their top tight end as a player they could potentially extend. Dimitroff acknowledged Tuesday that the sides have not engaged in contract talks and that the franchise tag does not appear realistic, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
The tight end franchise tag is expected to come in at approximately $10.7MM. While Dimitroff indicated that is technically an option, the Falcons’ projected $6.7MM in cap space (fifth-least in the NFL) will make such a move difficult.
Hooper broke out in his contract year, establishing new career-high marks in catches (75), yards (787) and touchdowns (six). He did so in 13 games, missing three because of a hamstring injury. The Falcons have begun talks with linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, but with the team having already extended Deion Jones, it would seem Campbell could well join Hooper in free agency. The Falcons used their 2019 tag on Grady Jarrett before extending him in July; they then gave Julio Jones a monster extension.
Should he reach the market, he would join Eric Ebron and Hunter Henry as a top tight end available. The Colts have indicated they will not move to re-sign Ebron, while nothing has come out on Chargers talks with Henry.
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