Malik Hooker

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.

AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Colts Rumors: Brissett, Castonzo, Hooker

Colts owner Jim Irsay said earlier this week that he wouldn’t consider trading backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett in exchange for a first-round pick, and it sounds like new head coach Frank Reich agrees, as Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. “We actually talked right at the beginning of camp, and I just cannot emphasize enough how fortunate we are to have Jacoby,” Reich said. “I think this guy’s one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the NFL, and we have two of them on this team. It will be a different role for him. We talked about that, and Jacoby is a real pro in every sense of the word.” Brissett, who started 15 games for Indianapolis a season ago, will now act as the club’s No. 2 option behind Andrew Luck, who is recovering from a shoulder injury which cost him the entire 2017 campaign.

Here’s more on the Colts:

  • Left tackle Anthony Castonzo re-injured his hamstring last week and will now be “miss a little bit of time,” Reich told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Castonzo, who began camp on the physically unable to perform list while dealing with the same injury, has only missed five total games through seven NFL seasons. At this point, it’s unclear if Castonzo is in danger of missing regular season action, but the Colts don’t have much tackle depth behind him. While Indianapolis spent the offseason reinforcing the interior of its offensive line, tackle wasn’t necessarily addressed in the same fashion. Currently, journeyman J’Marcus Webb, who was signed at the end of July, is filling in on the blindside.
  • Speaking of Colts injuries, safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers could both be ready for Week 1 after dealing with their own health questions marks, per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. Both Hooker, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and Geathers, working his way back from January knee surgery, opened training camp on the PUP list but have since been moved to the active roster. If Hooker and/or Geathers aren’t available to begin the season, the Colts will turn to Matthias Farley (who started 15 games in 2017) or T.J. Green to carry the load.
  • On the Colts’ first unofficial depth chart of the preseason, 2017 second-round pick Quincy Wilson was not listed as a starter at cornerback. Instead, journeyman Pierre Desir and former undrafted free agent Kenny Moore are the current top options in the Indianapolis secondary. In a separate piece, Holder looks at the unlikely ascendance of Moore, whom the Colts picked up via waivers last September.