Colts To Decline Malik Hooker’s Option

The Colts will decline the fifth-year option on Malik Hooker‘s contract, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated (on Twitter). With that, Hooker is set to be a free agent following the 2020 season. 

It’s a surprising decision – Hooker has seven career interceptions in just 34 games played and his would-be 2021 salary wasn’t prohibitive. Hooker, who was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2017 draft, would have cost $6.7MM to cuff for ’21, and that sum would have been guaranteed for injury only.

After Haason Reddick‘s option was (predictably) declined by the Cardinals, Hooker was left standing as the only 2017 first-round pick in limbo. The Colts waited right until the deadline to render their verdict and it’s a puzzling one. To be fair: Hooker has been hampered by injuries over the years. To be critical, again: He still offers tons of potential and he might just price himself out of Indianapolis with a big prove-it year.

Hooker likely would have been a Top 10 pick three years ago if not for injuries. With concerns about his surgically-repaired sports hernia and a torn labrum, the Colts landed him in the middle of the first round. And, as a rookie, he missed more than half of the season with a torn ACL. He hasn’t met all of his combine week expectations as a pro, but he still has time on his side. The Ohio State product just turned 24 in April and there are plenty of teams who would be happy to have him when he turns 25.

For now, the Colts’ safety group includes Hooker, rising sophomore Khari Willis, third-round pick Julian Blackmon, George Odum, and Rolan Milligan. Of that group, only Willis is under contract beyond ’20.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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13 comments on “Colts To Decline Malik Hooker’s Option

  1. Ak185

    Interesting-they seemed to be pretty high on him and he played well. When he went out, the secondary noticeably worsened and they had to sign free agents to bolster it despite how young he was. The Colts must think that he’ll eventually want more money than they can afford in two years and don’t even want to bother with next year’s salary-unless they think they want to sign him now? Strange.

  2. The Colts know a lot more about Malik Hooker’s health than PFR or anyone else here does. I imagine they have good reasons not to want to guarantee him for injury.

    Hooker will have to play hard this year and not get injured as he’s in a contract year. Will Hooker finish the season on IR?

  3. dynamite drop in monty

    Anytime one wants to know the reasoning behind what the Colts do you merely have to look for things Chris Ballard said. Guy is an amazingly straight shooter and doesn’t mince words. After the season he said maliks season “wasn’t great” and that he “tailed off at the end”.

    I think when it comes down to it Ballard was disappointed in Hooker’s tenure overall.

    • Ak185

      Agreed about Ballard. Never saw those comments, that would help explain it. Still curious given the body of work. Is Ballard simply done with him (he was not a Ballard pick after all) or does he just want him cheaper? He probably just feels that Hooker hit his ceiling. Will be interesting to see, however.

      • dynamite drop in monty

        On one hand, Hooker was drafted to fit Pagano’s defense and isn’t an exact “fit” for what Ballard and Eberflus are aiming for. However, there is no doubting Hooker’s ball hawk talents and overall freakish physical ability [when he manages to stay healthy].

        I think this may be Ballard just doubling down a bit. It Hooker balls out and has a great year than sure, he may earn a huge deal that Indy assuredly probably won’t match, but it means Hooker added to a colts squad that looks as close as anyone in the AFC to dethrone KC and go neck and neck w Baltimore. Either way he can’t really lose.

      • Luck of Irish

        Ak185: Ballard was the GM when the Colts selected Hooker. He didn’t have his entire front office team / org chart in place yet but he had been on the job as GM for about 3 months at the time of the 2017 draft.

        • Ak185

          Ah okay. I knew it must have been close because in my mind he was connected to the previous regime (that being Pagano, as dynamite illustrated). Thanks for clearing that up. As dynamite said, Hooker does have skills, which is probably why Ballard stuck out the remainder of the contract. I suppose that it appeared to me that he had found a place for Hooker due to them keeping him around. Thanks for the insight guys, helped me understand a bit more.

  4. dcahen

    All the comments & PFR seem to think Hooker is the greatest safety in years. He was touted as the next Ed Reed. He has fallen well short of those expectations & those fir a 1st round #15 pick. He just isn’t worth $6.7 million.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Colts apparently tired of Hooker tricks and won’t horse around anymore. Meanwhile Robert Kraft is fuming because no one told him a Hooker is available.

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