BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots need some weapons. Tight end Austin Hooper was expected to potentially be one of those weapons. No more.
The free-agent tight end is going to sign with the Cleveland Browns, a deal that will make him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. NFL Network reported the terms of the deal, which can’t be made official until Wednesday.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
Austin Hooper just now: "I'm definitely leaning Cleveland. Unless something comes up unexected, then no question Cleveland is the leader."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2020
Hooper, 25, was drafted in the third round by Atlanta in 2016. His receptions and receiving yards have increased each year, and he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season, all career-highs.
After a relatively quiet rookie season, Hooper has averaged 65 receptions, 658 yards and four touchdowns per season over the past three years. He also had three receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LI against the Patriots at the end of his rookie year.
Tight end was a major point of weakness for the Patriots last season, but Hooper won’t be part of the solution in New England in 2020.
Mike Silver said the Patriots were not in on Hooper:
SF, Washington, Green Bay, Chicago also made a run https://t.co/FfWAsvevsm
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 16, 2020
The acquisition of Hooper could lead to the Browns trading tight end David Njoku, a first-round pick in 2017 who missed 12 games last season.