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Report: Patriots Add Veteran TE Austin Hooper

The Patriots are reportedly adding to their tight end room by agreeing to a one-year deal with tight end Austin Hooper. 

Raider Tight End Austin Hooper (81).
Raider Tight End Austin Hooper (81).

The Patriots continue adding to their tight end room by reportedly agreeing to veteran tight end Austin Hooper on a one-year deal, according to NFL Network.

The 29-year-old joins starting tight end Hunter Henry to give New England veteran stability at the position. After making the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons with the Falcons, Hooper joined new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt in Cleveland for two seasons, tallying 84 catches, 780 yards, and seven touchdowns in Van Pelt's offense during the 2020-21 seasons.

Hooper's time with the Browns and the Pats OC made him an obvious free-agent target. Hooper is also a more prototypical in-line option than former Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki, who signed with the Bengals on Tuesday. In Cleveland, nearly 72% of Hooper's snaps came as a hand in the dirt tight end. The vet does offer some alignment flexibility, occasionally flexing into the slot, but his skill set is much different than a jumbo receiver like Gesicki. 

Although the Patriots have two experienced tight ends to carry them through the 2024 season, there's still a need for developmental talent and blocking upside. Henry and Hooper are not known as impact run blockers, functioning as stalemate blockers rather than people-movers. Furthermore, the Pats tight end room would benefit from more explosiveness in the passing game with an eye toward getting younger at the position.

As great as youthful upside sounds for the Patriots, the 2024 NFL Draft is not considered to feature great talent at tight end besides projected first-rounder Brock Bowers and possibly Texas TE Ja'Tavion Sanders. New England might've opted for immediate solutions at tight end due to the weaker draft class, while other needs could trump tight end in the first two rounds.

Eventually, the Patriots free-agent additions need to make a bigger immediate impact. Still, Hooper helps them fill out the depth chart behind Henry at tight end with a player who is very experienced in their new offense.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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