Malik Hooker

Dolphins Meet With Malik Hooker

Former Colt Malik Hooker will visit with the Dolphins on Tuesday (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). This marks the first known visit in a while for the one-time first-round safety. 

Now that May 3rd has come and gone, teams will no longer be docked in the compensatory pick formula for signing veterans. Teams have been waiting patiently for that deadline to pass, so players like Hooker are bound to be scooped up in the coming weeks. The Ravens, for example, had been eyeing offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva for weeks. Still, they waited until Tuesday morning to finalize his new two-year deal.

Hooker played out his rookie contract with the Colts, but he’s been plagued by injury trouble throughout his career. He did manage to bounce back from a seven-game rookie season to suit up for 27 regular-season contests from 2018-19, but he was limited to just two games last year. Now, he’s believed to be mostly recovered from his September Achilles tear.

If signed, Hooker will join third-round pick Jevon Holland in the Dolphins’ safety group. For now, the ‘Fins project to start Eric Rowe at strong safety and Bobby McCain at free safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Host Malik Hooker, Damontae Kazee

3:23pm: Even after the Cowboys agreed to terms with Neal, they still intend to visit with Hooker and Kazee, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).

1:25pm: Although their Keanu Neal interest may not be for a role as a full-time safety, the Cowboys appear interested in bolstering this position soon. They are set to meet with Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Despite the latter two defenders being on Dallas’ docket, the team remains in the mix for Neal, Watkins adds. Neal, however, appears to be on the cusp of a position change. Hooker and Kazee would then profile as potential Cowboys replacements for Xavier Woods, though the recent Cowboys starter remains unsigned. And both the safeties set to visit Dallas are coming off severe injuries. Each tore an Achilles’ tendon early last season.

While Hooker played out his rookie contract with the Colts, the Cowboys’ interest in Neal and Kazee certainly makes sense. The Falcons drafted Neal in the 2016 first round and added Kazee in the 2017 fifth round. New Cowboys DC Dan Quinn was the Falcons’ HC for most of the free agent safeties’ respective Atlanta tenures.

Hooker entered the NFL with injury trouble and has not been able to shake those concerns over the course of his career. While the former Colts first-round pick did bounce back from a seven-game rookie season to suit up for 27 regular-season contests from 2018-19, he is coming off a two-game 2020 slate. Hooker suffered his Achilles injury last September.

Neal’s Falcons teammate for four seasons, Kazee delivered a breakthrough season replacing an injured Neal in 2018. Kazee intercepted an NFL-most seven passes and posted 10 passes defensed, and he started 29 games for the Falcons — all in place of Neal, who suffered major injuries in back-to-back seasons — from 2018-19. Kazee’s four-start 2020 screeched to a halt after his October Achilles tear.

The Cowboys have featured a need at safety for years; Woods’ UFA status has now magnified the void at this position. They signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last year but cut him ahead of Week 1. The Cowboys proceeded to allow the most points in franchise history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/22/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Colts’ Malik Hooker Suffers Torn Achilles

It’s official. On Monday, Colts safety Malik Hooker was diagnosed with a torn Achilles tendon (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). Hooker will be placed on injured reserve and shut down for the remainder of the 2020 season. 

It’s heartbreaking news for Hooker, who has seen his young career derailed by injuries. In 2017, the Ohio State product likely would have been a Top 10 pick. But, with concerns about his surgically-repaired sports hernia and a torn labrum, he fell to the Colts in the middle of the first round. Then, as a rookie, he missed more than half of the season with a torn ACL.

Hooker stayed on the field for much of 2018 and 2019, but he was less than 100%. With questions about his long-term health, the Colts declined Hooker’s fifth-year option in May. Instead of an injury-guaranteed $6.7MM next year, Hooker is now on course for free agency, though he won’t have the strength of a strong platform year to show to teams.

With Hooker out of the picture, the Colts will turn to third-round safety Julian Blackmon for deep-field help. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Hooker will concentrate on rehab.

The Colts advanced to 1-1 with their 28-11 victory over the Vikings on Sunday. Next, they’ll face the Jets with Blackmon making his first career start.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Fear S Malik Hooker Has Torn Achilles

The hits keep on coming, as we’ve got word of another devastating injury to pass along. The Colts fear safety Malik Hooker has a torn Achilles, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Hooker is an every down player, so this is a big loss for Indianapolis’ defense. A first-round pick out of Ohio State in 2017, Hooker’s pro career has been plagued by injuries. As a rookie he tore his ACL after seven games, and he missed a handful of contests over the past couple years with other minor ailments.

Still only 24, it’s tough to see for the youngster. Colts rookie safety Julian Blackmon, who made his pro debut Sunday after tearing his ACL last December, will be asked to step up. The 2020 third-rounder from Utah played well against the Vikings, and will be a crucial piece of Matt Eberflus’ unit moving forward.

The news is especially brutal for Hooker, since the Colts declined the fifth-year option on his contract back in May. That means he’ll be a free agent after this season, and he won’t be fully healthy by the time the market opens. He’s obviously still quite young, but he might have to settle for a cheap prove-it deal due to his now extensive injury history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

AFC South Notes: Hooker, Funchess, Lee

Colts safety Malik Hooker will be back in the lineup for the first time since Week 3, according to Mike Chappell of Fox 59. Hooker was close to returning last week against the Texans, but instead was held out to allow for a completely recovery. Now, per the report, Hooker is “a full go.”

Hooker had damaged his meniscus in Week 3 against the Falcons and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks, right in line with a return this week. Coming off an impressive victory over Houston, the Colts are in the driver’s seat in the AFC South at 4-2 and will be happy to get a starter back in their secondary.

Here is some more news from around the AFC South:

  • Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters that wide receiver Devin Funchess should return to practice next week, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. Funchess was placed on injured reserve after suffering a clavicle injury in the team’s season opener. The Colts signed Funchess to a one-year, $10MM contract this offseason, but have yet to reap much on-field production for their signing. Prior to the injury, Funchess had three receptions for 32 yards.
  • The Jaguars expect a wide receiver of their own, Marqise Lee, to be back next week according to head coach Doug Marrone, via John Oesher of Jaguars.com. Lee missed all of 2018 with a torn-ACL, but had a strong track-record of success from 2017-2018, where he accumulated 119 receptions for 1,553 receiving yards. In his return this season, Lee was beginning to work his way into the rotation when he came down with an ankle injury that has had him out since Week 6.

AFC Rumors: Chiefs, Colts, Burfict, Allen

Although Tyreek Hill returned to practice this week, the Chiefs‘ offense will continue to operate without its premier wide receiver Sunday. The Chiefs ruled out Hill, but Damien Williams is expected to return to action, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Kansas City’s starting running back missed the past two games with a knee injury, leading to LeSean McCoy and second-year back Darrel Williams splitting time in the backfield. Damien Williams amassed 154 scrimmage yards and scored in the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over the Colts last season. Signs point to Hill returning in Week 6.

Shifting first to the team traveling to Missouri for this week’s Sunday-nighter, here’s the AFC’s latest:

  • Darius Leonard will miss his third consecutive game due to a concussion. Both Colts starting safeties will be out, with Clayton Geathers (concussion) joining Malik Hooker on the mend. Hooker is recovering from a knee injury. T.Y. Hilton got in a second straight limited practice, putting Indianapolis’ top wideout in line to return, but rookie receiver Parris Campbell underwent a procedure on his knee and will be out for an unknown time period, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. Campbell has played in each Colts game this season but missed preseason time with a hamstring malady.
  • The Bengals were expected to take their lumps this season. The Broncos‘ 0-4 start has surprised. But executives around the league are not anticipating a firesale for either franchise. “I agree they absolutely should be shopping players (ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline), but I have my doubts,” an NFL exec told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. “We’re applying reason and logic, but I’m not sure those teams will fully embrace what needs to be done.” Denver, which did trade Demaryius Thomas before last season’s deadline, has standouts from its previous Super Bowl team on expiring contracts — Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders. The Bengals house veterans A.J. Green, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. But Green is still recovering from injury and the latter two are early into 2018 extensions.
  • Josh Allen logged a full practice Friday, putting the Bills‘ starter on a path toward returning Sunday against the Titans. Allen suffered a concussion against the Patriots. Matt Barkley would start if the Bills, who have a Week 6 bye, play it safe with their offensive centerpiece.
  • Vontaze Burfict faces a rest-of-the-season suspension that could well end his career. The polarizing Raiders linebacker’s appeal is scheduled for Tuesday, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets his argument will be based around the lack of precedent for a 13-week suspension ensuing because of one hit. However, the NFL said in its letter to the oft-suspended linebacker this ban was issued for a pattern of on-field decisions, rather than merely his collision with Jack Doyle. This considered, Burfict’s argument may not be successful.

Colts’ Malik Hooker To Miss 4-6 Weeks

Colts safety Malik Hooker will be out for 4-6 weeks with a torn meniscus, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. For now, the club will turn to fourth-round rookie Khari Willis

It’s a tough blow to the Colts’ secondary, but they might be able to survive without him as they ride a two game winning streak. Regardless, his toughness will be missed – Hooker actually re-entered after suffering the injury against the Falcons and finished the game.

Next up for the Colts, sans Hooker – a Week 4 matchup against the Raiders in Indianapolis. After that, they’ll face the Chiefs, Texans, Broncos, Steelers, and Dolphins.

Hooker graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 14 overall safety last season, a marketed improvement from his seven-game rookie slate. So far this year, he has one interception and ten tackles through three games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Colts, Jets, Browns, Titans

After two offseasons featuring extensive injury rehab, Malik Hooker has been a full-fledged participant in the Colts‘ latest program. Surgeries to repair hernia and hip issues delayed Hooker’s Colts work after the franchise used a first-round pick on him in 2017, and rehab from the ACL and MCL tears Hooker suffered that season sidetracked him last year. Nothing is impeding the third-year safety at the moment.

This is probably the best I’ve felt since I left college,” Hooker said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “Probably even better than that. For me to finally be able to have a whole offseason to work my body, it’s been great.”

Hooker dealt with nagging hip and foot injuries, the former sidelining him for two regular-season games and the latter keeping him off the field for Indianapolis’ divisional-round loss in Kansas City. Hooker graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 14 overall safety last season, a marketed improvement from his seven-game rookie slate. A full offseason of work figures to benefit the ascending talent.

Here is the latest from the AFC, shifting first to the other Colts safety starter:

  • While Hooker is having a rare stretch free of injury talk, Clayton Geathers is resting after an offseason knee surgery. The fifth-year safety, who recently re-signed with the Colts, said (via Erickson) he underwent a “cleanup” procedure this year. Knee trouble plagued Geathers for much of last season, the defender categorizing it as “a battle” to make it to game days weekly. This marks the second straight offseason Geathers underwent knee surgery. Foot and neck problems have severely constrained the former second-round pick as well during his career. Geathers has not played more than 12 games in a season since 2015, but he said he is feeling better after this latest surgery.
  • The Jets wrapped up their Joe Douglas interview Sunday and, despite the Eagles executive being the favorite to land the vacant GM job, the team will follow through with its Champ Kelly meeting. The Bears’ assistant director of player personnel began his interview process by dining with Jets brass Sunday night, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, before interviewing Monday. Kelly marks the last of the scheduled interviews, following Douglas, Seahawks co-player personnel director Scott Fitterer and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot in doing so.
  • If the Browns do end up trading Duke Johnson, they appear to have found a successor in second-year UDFA Dontrell Hilliard. Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell praised Hilliard’s ability as a passing-down back and potential slot receiver — essentially Johnson’s role — and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com believes the Browns are confident Hilliard could replace the veteran incumbent. She suggests the team could fetch a fifth-round pick for Johnson, long the subject of trade rumors, but notes Browns brass likely deems that too low a return. Hilliard played in 11 games last season, catching nine passes for 105 yards.
  • The left side of the Titans‘ offensive line appears set, with Rodger Saffold set to play in between Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones. As for the guard who lines up next to right tackle Jack Conklin, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com tabs Kevin Pamphile as the favorite at this point. Pamphile started 35 Buccaneers games from 2014-17 and was a full-time first-stringer in ’16 and ’17. The former fifth-round pick started two Titans games last year. The Titans did use a Day 2 pick on a guard, No. 82 overall choice Nate Davis out of Charlotte.