The Las Vegas Raiders made a surprising move at the start of free agency by trading away former Pro Bowler Darren Waller. However, they have now signed another former Pro Bowler, Austin Hooper, as a free agent on Wednesday.
Despite a busy offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders were expected to keep their tight end position intact primarily because of Josh McDaniels stating waller would be a huge part of the offense. But to the surprise of many the Las Vegas Raiders will have significant changes at the tight end position this season. This was confirmed when the team signed Austin Hooper, a former Pro Bowl player, to a one-year deal that could potentially earn him up to $3.5 million. The 28-year-old Hooper is expected to be the primary receiving tight end for the Las Vegas Raiders in the upcoming season. Although he had a dip in production since his Pro Bowl years with Atlanta in 2018 and 2019, he remains a solid player.
After being released by the Cleveland Browns last year, Hooper signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Titans for the 2022 season. While he began the season slowly, he finished strong with 24 of his 41 receptions coming in the last eight games. Hooper contributed two receiving touchdowns, which tied him with Robert Woods for third on the team.
Despite only starting two games for the Titans, Hooper played 503 snaps, which was the second-most among the team’s tight ends. He was primarily utilized as a pass-catching option for the team.
Hooper, who was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford, spent his first four seasons in the league with the team. He is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and the Browns signed him to a four-year, $44 million contract in 2020.
Throughout his career, Hooper has recorded 339 catches for 3,468 yards and 25 touchdowns so far.
The Las Vegas Raiders have been proactive in addressing their tight end position this week, making significant moves such as signing Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard. These moves were necessary after the team traded former Pro Bowler Darren Waller to the Giants, creating a void in the position. The Raiders are hoping that the additions of Hooper and Howard will bolster their tight-end group and help sustain their offensive production.It is to be noted Hooper is a younger cheaper option at the Tight end position this move might prove to be a wise one by the Raiders.
Austin Hooper Vs Darren Waller by the numbers
Austin Hooper entered the NFL in 2016, while Darren Waller entered in 2015. Hooper has recorded 41 more catches than Waller, but with 104 fewer yards and six more touchdowns. Waller has also missed 14 games over the past two seasons, while Hooper has only missed one.
It is worth noting that the majority of Waller’s career statistics, specifically 197 catches out of 298 (66%), were recorded during the 2019-20 seasons. During this time, he also scored 12 out of his 19 touchdowns (63%) and gained 66% of his total yardage. These statistics raise questions about Waller’s consistency and long-term durability, which could have been a factor in the Raiders’ decision to trade him and pursue other options at tight end. This move might prove to be a steal for the raiders