An Aaron Rodgers–Austin Hooper connection is a pretty scary proposition for the Packers’ NFC rivals, and that’s exactly what Green Bay is hoping to create this offseason. Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, the Packers want to add a receiving weapon in free agency and in the draft, and they plan to pursue Hooper, the best TE available on the free agent market.
Already this morning we heard that the Bears and Redskins are interested in Hooper, but given that they advanced to the NFC Championship Game in 2019 and have a future Hall of Famer under center, the Packers look like a much much more appealing landing spot for Hooper if they can make the money work. The 25-year-old will likely take home a contract paying him at least $12MM per season, and the tight end market as a whole is widely expected to be reset this year after it has stagnated for some time.
Indeed, the Packers’ own Jimmy Graham has long been the TE pacesetter in terms of average annual value ($10MM), but his play has not really merited that status in recent years. He did lead Green Bay tight ends with 38 catches for 447 yards in 2019, but an upgrade is definitely in order.
Hooper would provide just that. In 13 games for Atlanta in 2019, the 25-year-old two-time Pro Bowler set career-highs in receptions (75), yards (787), and touchdowns (six). Green Bay has often asked Rodgers to make hay out of an underwhelming receiving corps, and a combination of Davante Adams, Hooper, and perhaps a rookie WR from a class that is historically deep at the position would undoubtedly make A-Rod a very happy man. Adding Hooper may also allow the team to cut Graham and save about $8MM against the cap, which would help pay for Hooper’s salary.
Of course, the team also hopes RB Aaron Jones will stick around for the foreseeable future after a monster 2019 campaign as a do-it-all playmaker for the Green Bay offense. Jones is now eligible for an extension after having completed three years in the league, and Demovsky says the Packers were scheduled to meet with his reps at the scouting combine. Jones, a 2017 fifth-rounder, is interested in having contract talks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.