The Green Bay Packers reportedly tried to make several moves before the 2019 trade deadline. To be more specific, there was one in the form of acquiring one of the NFL’s rising stars at tight end.
According to Jason Wilde of The Athletic, the front office tried to trade for Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. This news surfaced right after Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff Jr. said he believed a few key, former players, including Hooper, would hit the open market during the offseason. The 25-year-old tight end is scheduled to become a free agent on Wednesday, March 18.
If the Packers were to make a move on Hooper, it would certainly be a sign that the team plans to either cut or potentially restructure Jimmy Graham. Graham is due $8 million in 2020, but the team could clear that much in cap space by cutting ties altogether.
Once again, Green Bay needs to dedicate an offseason towards figuring out the tight end position after numerous tries to find stability via free agency. In the past, they’ve tried Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, and Graham, but aside from Cook who battled injury, all three fell short of expectations.
Hooper certainly appears to be the most promising candidate, but he may be attached to a healthy price tag considering his age and production. Hooper made his second Pro-Bowl in 2019 totaling 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns in only 13 games. A duo of Hooper and Aaron Rodgers might be enough to elevate the quarterbacks game for the final few holes of his career.
By cutting Graham and possibly backup guard Lane Taylor, the Packers would give themselves a little more wiggle room to make a deal with Hooper happen. Head coach Matt LaFleur definitely wouldn’t mind seeing that his offense is firmly predicated on weaponizing the position.
Last year, GM Brian Gutekunst spent a third-round pick on tight end Jace Sternberger, but the rookie appeared in just six games after suffering a significant ankle injury during the preseason. Sternberger failed to make his first reception in the regular season, however, he caught his first career touchdown in the NFC Championship facing the San Francisco 49ers.
Sternberger is a promising prospect, but it’s too early to tell what Green Bay might have in him. Signing Hooper would instill an instant playmaker within the offense while assuring the position for years to come.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.