It's no secret that the New England Patriots are in desperate need for a top talented tight end. The Patriots were originally linked to the LA Chargers Hunter Henry who is set to be a free agent, but recent reports have come out that the Chargers will more than likely use the franchise tag on him, eliminating what was apparently the Patriots top free agent target and one of the best tight ends in the free-agent market this season. Fortunately for the Patriots, Austin Hooper is still on the market and according to him he's going to be able to explore free agency.
In an Instagram post Hooper advised Atlanta Falcons fans that the organization had "told me to hit the road lol not up to me"
The reality is the Falcons couldn't afford to re-sign him this season anyways. Atlanta only has $5 million left in cap space, and Hooper's going to demand a lot more money. It's expected that he'll be given a contract somewhere in the range of five years for 50 million dollars, and that number makes a lot of sense. He just turned 25 years old, and in 59 regular season games with the Falcons he's caught 214 balls for 2244 yards and 16 touchdowns.
With Henry no longer being an option for the Patriots,Bill Belichick should really consider signing Austin Hooper. He's coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances, and he would be an instant impact on New England's offense.
It's been my opinion that the Patriots tight end position is much more important than them finding a new wide receiver. If Bill Belichick is going to spend big money in free agency, he'd be better off finding a tight end rather than spending it on a wide receiver that he would be able to probably find in the draft. Whether you want to admit it or not, AJ Green does not solve the Patriots offensive problems. The good news is, somebody like Austin Hooper can.
If Hooper's contract is too expensive, there are other options like Tyler Eifert. He's had a solid career with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he's had a problem staying healthy and staying on the field. If you're going to invest big money into a player Austin Hooper seems like the best option for New England right now.
Hooper's not quite Rob Gronkowski, but he can be a solid contributor to the offense, and give who's ever playing quarterback for the Patriots a solid option. He's obviously much better than anybody who played on the 2019 squad. The Patriots cannot go through another season fielding a tight end group like it did last season,that had Ben Watson, Matt Lacosse, and Ryan Izzo.
Even if Belichick was to spend the money and sign Hooper, he would still need to draft a tight end to be a solid number two. Matt Lacosse could be a good number 3 for the Patriots, but he proved last season that number one and number two is not a good spot for him. Options at the Patriots have is That Moss, Jared Pinkney, or Jacob Breeland.
Bill Belichick is generally known for being thrifty with the Patriots money, and usually when a guy like Hooper hits the market you can count the Patriots out. But, if New England does plan on re-signing Tom Brady, Belichick needs to make sure that he gives him the proper weapons to have success this season.
Besides the free-agent market, the Patriots have also been linked to a possible trade with the Baltimore Ravens for their tight end Hayden Hurst. He's not quite Austin Hooper, but he would be an upgrade over last year's team, and at this time I don't see a reason why the Patriots couldn't sign Hooper and make the trade for Hurst.
Only time will tell if Bill Belichick is really interested in bringing Austin Hooper or any of the free agent tight ends to the New England Patriots for the 2020 season. But, one thing that we all know for sure is, at some point in time whether it's through free agency, through trade, or through the draft, Bill Belichick is going to have to address the tight end spot and bringing a legitimate offensive threat to New England.