The Cleveland Browns signing two-time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper makes sense

The Cleveland Browns filled a hole on the roster by signing two-time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper from the Atlanta Falcons.

Austin Hooper cashed in on his career year with the Atlanta Falcons by signing with the Cleveland Browns for four years, at $44 million dollars a year. Of that $44 million, $28 million of it is guaranteed. Hooper’s a heck of a player, finishing last year with 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He’s also coming off his second straight Pro Bowl while setting career years in those categories.

Sure, the Browns also made him the highest-paid player at his position, but what are you going to do? Everyone overpays for free agents. Hooper is arguably in the top five of the players at his position and has only missed four games in his career. He is only credited for starting 25 games over his last three years, but that’s mostly because Atlanta ran a lot of double tight end sets. Don’t put too much stock into that.

Hooper will make things easier on Baker Mayfield, as Mayfield will now have a reliable option at tight end, who will also help him get back on track with the play-action pass. Hooper did really well in Atlanta in similar setups and schemes, making him a great fit for the offense Kevin Stefanski want’s to run. In many ways, he’s just like Stefanski’s former player, Kyle Rudolph, only a few inches shorter, and a few pounds lighter. Hooper is also a hoss on the line, showing his ability to open up holes on the edge.

The move won’t come without some controversy, however. There will be some who argue that he’s not worth being the top paid tight end, and honestly, that’s fair. Hooper finished seventh in the league in yards and is being paid more than Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, who racked up nearly 600 yards more than Hooper. In fact, Hooper has never topped 800 yards in a season, or more than six touchdowns. That’s with Matt Ryan as his quarterback, who’s no slouch. Hooper also isn’t a deep threat, as he ranked 14th in yards per catch out of the top 15 tight ends in the 2019 season.

Is he worth about $11 million a year? No, not if Joe Schobert isn’t. Is he the perfect fit for this offense? Yes, he is. So the Browns just proved that by over-paying for a player that analytics don’t matter and their evaluation process is made up.

I thought the Browns canceled their version of Who’s Line is it Anyway when they found stability at the quarterback position?

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