The Cleveland Browns may regret letting Austin Hooper

Cleveland Browns Austin Hooper (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Austin Hooper (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

The release of Austin Hooper proved to be a major move the Cleveland Browns made this year.

Outside of trading for disgraced quarterback Deshaun Watson and trading away embattled former quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns’ biggest offseason moves may have been the releases of JC Tretter and Austin Hooper. The Tretter release got fans hot as it was an unnecessary move that weakened the line and put a top-five player at his position on the market.

The release of Hooper, however, was heralded as the right call, and even I didn’t have a problem with it when it happened. The Browns’ offense did not use him correctly and it was clear that he wasn’t the weapon he was hyped up to be.

Hooper has since gone on to sign with the Tennessee Titans and has instantly become their new starter at the tight end position. He’ll likely be the team’s number one or number two target so we’ll get to see if Hooper can in fact return to his pre-Browns Pro Bowl form that he had in Atlanta.

It’s also very possible the Browns made a mistake in ridding themselves of him.

The Cleveland Browns could’ve used Austin Hooper if things break a certain way

This may be blasphemous to type but I don’t think the Browns roster is that stacked. This isn’t new, either. I haven’t agreed with that assessment for three years. The idea that the Browns have a “loaded roster” is nothing but fan hype.

Yes, they have some elite players. Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, and sometimes Denzel Ward are among the league’s best. Same with Wyatt Teller and a healthy Jack Conklin.

That’s about it, however. I think Watson is going to decline due to the year-off theory; when players sit a year and then return, they’re not what they once were. This theory may not affect quarterbacks the same but Le’Veon Bell, Rob Gronkowski, Ricky Williams, Josh Gordon (ok those two didn’t “sit out”) and so many others who didn’t play a season due to non-injuries don’t just bounce back.

Maybe Watson will, that’s a possibility. Maybe he won’t. That’s a possibility too.

I don’t trust the receiving options either, nor do I think Kareem Hunt is this elite player so many paint him as. I’ve watched him stop moving his feet way too much when he gets hit to sit here and say he’s within any comparison of Chubb.

That’s not to say the receivers, Hunt, or even the consistently inconsistent David Njoku can’t have huge seasons. It means that this team as it currently is an enigma.

It’s Schrodinger’s Football team. Until we know, we don’t know. That’s why Hooper’s release may not help this team. The thought was the Browns would use his cap number to go after another big receiver, but all they did was get Amari Cooper, who seems to be on a downswing of his career.

Maybe Cooper has a Randy Moss-like resurrection but that’s not a given. If he doesn’t have that type of return to form, there’s no saying what the rest of the receivers will look like. Donovan Peoples-Jones isn’t the game-breaker fans claim him to be, and the rest of the guys are unknowns.

If they don’t produce, then someone like Hooper could’ve been useful.

The Browns really didn’t improve the offense around the quarterback spot as much as people may want to believe and they certainly could have done a better job adding weapons to the receiving corp.

Only time will tell if Hooper’s release was a mistake or not.

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