The Cleveland Browns ushered in the 2020 season with a new general manager, head coach, and a big free agent signing.
From the Atlanta Falcons, the Browns signed tight end Austin Hooper to a huge 4 year, $42 million contract.
Hooper was wooed by many teams including the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and Buffalo Bills but ultimately chose Cleveland.
Which FA signing or missed signing by the Redskins sticks out the most?
Austin Hooper. I have mixed emotions about this one. The team needs an upgrade at TE but I also feel like his production last season had more to do with injuries. ⬇️ Contract details pic.twitter.com/SidJyGookf
— Jeremy Lee (@BigPoppa703) March 30, 2020
With the hiring of Coach Kevin Stefanski who has a reputation for multiple tight end schemes, this seemed like a logical move.
Almost two years into the contract, has Hooper been worth the money he is paid?
While Hooper has experienced moments where he earned his money, those are few and far between.
If we are evaluating his entire body of work for 2020 and the 2021 season to date, the answer is no.
1. He Earned His Money In 2020 With The Catch In The Playoff Game
Hooper, 27, missed part of last season after undergoing an emergency appendectomy so his production was down from his career-best seasons of 2018 and 2019 in Atlanta.
However, Hooper kept hope alive with this huge fourth-down catch in the divisional playoff game with the Chiefs.
His presence and ability to catch and hold on to this ball earned him his 2020 salary.
This season-saving catch from Austin Hooper 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 17, 2021
2. His 2021 Production Is Down From 2020 But He Has Played More Minutes
Hooper has started in all 12 games in 2021.
He has two touchdowns and 261 yards.
Hooper caught 28 of his 45 targets.
For the amount of money he is being paid, this is not enough production.
He is being outperformed by David Njoku who has started in only 9 games.
Tell me what Austin Hooper does that David Njoku can’t do for less money???
— 🎄Donovan🎄 (@_dcadd03) December 3, 2021
Njoku has three touchdowns and 407 yards.
He caught 27 out of his 40 targets.
Njoku’s yards per catch is 15.1 as compared to Hooper’s 9.3.
Hooper Is Not Worth His Salary
Hooper, over the two seasons, has not been worth the money.
It may not be entirely his fault.
Because the Browns use three tight ends, Hooper was not going to have Travis Kelce numbers of targets and yards.
He is sharing the load with Njoku and Harrison Bryant.
There were rumors in the past offseason that the Browns already considered moving on from Hooper.
Sounding like Cleveland TE Austin Hooper might be available in a trade. Didn't really pop with Baker last year following his 2019 breakout with the Falcons.
— Johnny Venerable (@JohnnyVenerable) August 5, 2021
It seems as though this could be more of a reality after the 2021 season especially with Njoku’s rookie contract expiring.
The word is that the Browns are already having preliminary negotiations with Njoku on an extension.
Browns & TE David Njoku Have Had Early Extension Talks https://t.co/rGF5ofpmLM #Browns pic.twitter.com/wlfsj3aS1H
— NFLTradeRumors.co (@nfltrade_rumors) November 29, 2021
Signing Njoku to a long-term deal all but guarantees they do not want to retain Hooper (and his salary) in 2022.
Hooper Signing Is One Of Berry’s Few FA Missteps
Let’s recap todays free agent signings under new GM Andrew Berry:
– TE Austin Hooper – 4-year, $44M
– OT Jack Conklin – 3-year, $42M
– QB Case Keenum – 3-year, $18M
Great start. #Browns pic.twitter.com/tQTiyxYNOl
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) March 16, 2020
Perhaps we can chalk up the Hooper signing to a brand new general manager learning the ropes.
He wanted to make his mark; the Browns were set up to utilize tight ends often.
GM Berry has done a great job overall with his free agent signings, and in his rookie season, only Hooper would be the one that is a question mark.
1st off, it is not your money, it is money that the players have earned and the teams must pay out or be penalized.
2nd 10 million a year is not “a lot of money” in NFL salaries with a cap space of 200 million.
Especially for Starters. Whats next, going to say Hunt and Chubb are not worth their 10 mil because they miss games?
3rd Blocking IS very important in football. It is a fundamental part of it.
4th Showing younger players how they need to work and behave is EXTREMELY important in the NFL
If you were older and a true browns fan you would remember the years when we were the youngest NFL team and how horrible every player was.
Once again you are following the path of Mary K and the sad Cleveland .com writers
They enjoy misery and promote it daily.
If you want to write like this go write about a team that that has a losing record.
Let the Browns build their team they way they want.. I like what they are are doing. Too bad you can’t see it.
Anyone who complains about how much someone is being paid is just upset they did not work to get at that level. Keep it up and you will be deleted from my reading list. Then, maybe that is what you want.
If there is nothing to write about, write about the charity work the players perform.
Not about “are they worth their pay?” Because it just show how little you know about the business of professional sports.
Wendi Oliveros says
Thanks Jsixis for reading our Browns Nation articles. The article poses a question that GM Andrew Berry must ask himself about each player at the end of the season. It is fair that we can agree to disagree; however, football is mainly about stats and productivity. Hooper could very well be providing the leadership you mention; however, teams have a salary cap and a limited amount of funds which they must figure out the best way to allocate with the sole purpose of winning. Professional sports is a constant evaluation and reevaluation of the cost vs. benefit of each player on the roster.