With the loss of C.J. Uzomah as he leaves in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals have a hole at the tight end spot. Drew Sample is on the roster, but has never shown enough to feel confidence in his ability to be the starting tight end.
There are still several free agents out there that could be good signings in O.J. Howard and Gerald Everett, among others. The Browns recently added to the available tight ends though, with the release of Austin Hooper.
Hooper started his career in Atlanta, where he improved every year before finishing his final year with 787 receiving yards and six scores in 2019.
Following that season, Hooper signed with the Browns on a four-year, $42 million deal. With the Browns, he never performed as well as he did in Atlanta.
And with the emergence of David Njoku, Hooper was released for cap savings. It also didn’t help that Hooper led all tight ends with a 13.6% drop rate in the 2021 season.
Source: The #Browns are going to release TE Austin Hooper as a post-June-1 designation.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 16, 2022
A 27-year-old dual-threat tight end and two-time Pro Bowler will be on the market.
After the two down years in Cleveland, Hooper, who is still only 27, should command a salary much less than what he got from the Browns. He would be a very reasonable signing for the Bengals looking for a replacement for what Uzomah brought in the passing game.
With the Bengals, Hooper would likely see a resurgence with his numbers by getting to play with Joe Burrow instead of Baker Mayfield while not having to split reps nearly as much with another tight end.
This could be a match that works perfectly for both parties, but it remains to be seen if the Bengals and Hooper will have interest in one another.