Whichever No. 1 tight end the Falcons settle on for 2020 will benefit from playing with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. They are reasons why Hooper had room to work against zones and underneath coverage. The cap space Hooper is likely to demand is better used on defense. Maybe the Falcons can re-sign free agent linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a modest deal after he came on as a starter in 2019.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons still would negotiate with Hooper and other free agents. He said the team also is considering using its franchise tag. Hooper would be the only candidate for that designation, which would mean a salary of more than $10 million. The Falcons likely would be in line for a compensatory draft pick if Hooper signs elsewhere.
That appears to be the most likely outcome at this point. Losing Hooper would leave the Falcons down a good player, but they have more pressing roster needs and little cap space to address them.