Browns to release TE Austin Hooper after 2 seasons to save $9.5M against salary cap, NFL Network reports

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper (81) warms up before an NFL football game, Sunday,...
Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper (81) warms up before an NFL football game, Sunday, December 12, 2021 in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)(Matt Durisko | AP)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:58 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Browns have been making a slew of roster moves, including taking TE Austin Hooper off of theirs by releasing him with a post-June 1 designation, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on March 16.

The 27-year-old came to Cleveland in 2020 as a top-tier, two-time Pro Bowler tight end with the Atlanta Falcons.

When he signed on to become a Brown, Hooper temporarily became the highest-paid tight end in the NFL with a $42 million, four-year contract with $23 million guaranteed over the first two seasons.

That would’ve had Hooper carry the fourth-highest cap number on the Browns 2022 roster at $13.25 million.

But now that he’s reportedly being released as a post-June 1 designation, that’ll save the Browns $9.5 million in cap space.

Around the NFL reporter Nick Shook said this move comes as no surprise to the city since “Hooper’s output simply hasn’t been worth that kind of money to Cleveland.”

Before sporting the brown and orange, Hooper was fresh off his most successful NFL season, catching 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

Those stats were nearly cut in half in Cleveland last season, finishing with just 38 receptions for 345 yards and three touchdowns...

While you have to keep in mind that these numbers are also a product of the two-tight-end base offense that had Hooper start alongside David Njoku, the latter player got the franchise tag.

The 25-year-old former first-round pick outperformed Hooper in 2021 by catching 36 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns, placing him third in Browns receiving last season and convincing Cleveland to not let him become a free agent.

Since the Browns placed that coveted franchise tag on Njoku, that made Hooper “expendable,” in the words of ESPN’s Jake Trotter.

Trotter reported third-year standout Harrison Bryant will slide into Hooper’s starting role if another TE isn’t in the picture.

But Hooper isn’t the only one the Browns moved on from... or may soon.

WR Jarvis Landry and C JC Tretter parted ways with the Dawg Pound just days before the report about Hooper.

Has QB Baker Mayfield, who Hooper was attached at the hip to right off the start in hopes it would translate to on-field chemistry, already played his last game as a Cleveland Brown too?

Mayfield is under contract with the Browns through the 2022 season for the final year on his rookie deal, but many believe the team’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will also not be returning.

Talks had taken place between Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the Browns management about him possibly coming to Cleveland.

However, the Browns were notified on Thursday morning that they are no longer being considered as a destination for Watson, several NFL insiders tweeted.

The Browns QB1 requested a trade soon after news of the meeting with Watson broke, but Cleveland told Mayfield they are “not accommodating his request,” reports said.

[ Baker Mayfield requests trade from Cleveland Browns, NFL Network reports ]

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