Falcons want the market to set the value for Hooper, Campbell and Schweitzer

The Falcons, strapped for salary-cap room while hoping for a new collective bargaining agreement to be reached, are set to allow tight end Austin Hooper, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and guard Wes Schweitzer to test the free-agency market March 18.

Hooper, a two-time Pro Bowl alternate, has a market value of about $10 million per year, while the Falcons are $4.9 million under the salary cap, according to salary-cap website Spotrac.

Campbell, the Falcons’ leading tackler over the past two seasons, is a versatile component to the defense. While Schweitzer has been a serviceable backup at guard.

The Falcons, who could get some salary-cap relief from a new CBA, hope to re-sign their players.  With the current deal set to expire, the Falcons can’t use the post-June 1 salary-cap designations to open space this offseason.

“Those three individuals, we have talked to them,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Tuesday. “We’ve had good discussions. We are, after all is said and done, we’re going to let them get to the market and let them find out where they are in the market.”

The Falcons can’t afford all three of the players. Overall, the Falcons have 21 players eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

There is some dispute on the market value of the players. Spotrac project that Hooper will sign a five-year, $49.9 million deal.

“That’s a really important piece for both parties,” Dimitroff said of the market value. “Of course we want them back and will continue to negotiate with those players. But it’s imperative that we see what the market holds for them.

“So, that will gauge how we approach it.”

Hooper, whose agent did not immediately return a phone call, will have several suitors. The Patriots, Packers and Cowboys are in the market for tight ends.

Campbell, who was a fourth-round pick in 2016, has outperformed his draft status. He had a base salary of $2.025 million last season. He made $4.2 million over his rookie contract.

Schweitzer, a sixth-round pick in 2016, has played in 46 games and made 36 starts for the Falcons.

“As you know, we have a salary-cap situation that we are monitoring closely, and that’s important for us to know exactly where we feel the market is before we make any very solid offers and discussions as far a making agreements on compensation,” Dimitroff said.

The Falcons discussed using their franchise tag.

“We talked about franchise tags, of course,” Dimitroff said. “It’s part of a discussion. We haven’t made any decisions on that at all. But it’s still in consideration.”

Hooper caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns last season, while Campbell had a career-high 75 solo tackles and two interceptions. Schweitzer had seven starts in 15 games last season and 36 starts in the past three seasons.

“There are a lot of things going on now in terms of the CBA and how that affects a number for things for planning down the road,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.

Quinn and the Falcons are willing to face the reality that they may lose the players.

“How do you (replace) them, sometimes it’s from within your own team, you’ve developed somebody, you draft somebody, and we’re ready to do that,” Quinn said. “Sometimes, you have a chance to re-sign them to stay in their current role.

“The good news is they are still in conversation with the team, but a lot will be decided over the next few weeks.”

The Falcons announced earlier that they would not re-sign defensive end Vic Beasley. Beasley has a market value of $7.3 million. Spotrac projects him to receive a three-year, $22 million as a free agent.

The Falcons likely will replace Beasley in the draft because the price tag for veteran free-agent defensive ends is too high.

“It’s not a mystery with Vic not coming back, we are going to continue to focus in that area,” Dimitroff said. “There are opportunities to do that whether it’s potentially in free agency or in the draft. I like where we are right now with our additions and our adjustments with our (defensive) line coaches. Being able to focus on that and get more and more rush is important for us.”

Most of the early mock drafts have the Falcons taking either LSU defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson or Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa.

“I’m excited about where we are there (scouting rush defensive end/linebackers),” Dimitroff said. “We had talked, and there wasn’t a huge (rush defensive end/linebacker) draft, but the more that you look at it, there are viable candidates all through the first, second and third round in that area,” Dimitroff said.