Redskins were free agent tight end Austin Hooper’s second choice

The Washington Redskins were evidently high on Austin Hooper‘s wish list in free agency. He said his choice came down to the Redskins or the Cleveland Browns.

This offseason, the Washington Redskins haven’t made a real splash move in free agency. The biggest signing that they made was inking Kendall Fuller to a four-year deal worth $40 million, but aside from that, the team has focused more on signing players to add depth to their roster on cheap deals that will give the team a lot of flexibility moving forward.

However, the ‘Skins have also been involved in the chase for some bigger name free agents. Amari Cooper was known to be one of them; the Redskins just missed out on adding him as he returned to the Dallas Cowboys on a five-year, $100 million deal.

And now, it appears that Austin Hooper was also seriously considering the Redskins in free agency.

In a recent interview on SiriusXM’s NFL radio, Hooper confirmed that the ‘Skins had an interest in him and that his choice came down to either the Redskins or the Cleveland Browns.

Redskins were definitely a team that had showed interest, I would say. Definitely a solid organization with another talented young quarterback, so that was probably going to be my next landing spot. It really came down to Cleveland and Washington. At the end, I chose to be a Brown.

The Browns gave Hooper the richest tight end deal in NFL history, agreeing to pay him $44 million over four years. It’s unclear if the Redskins offered a similar deal or if the team shied away from that price. But either way, Hooper ended up choosing the Browns as his top option.

Hooper would’ve been a big upgrade for Washington. He’s a well-rounded tight end who has improved each of his seasons in the league. He’s not a crazy athlete, but he has size and is adept at finding pockets of space in the middle of the field as a receiver. And as a blocker, he has steadily improved since coming into the league and can function in that role.

Should the Redskins have paid a premium to get Hooper? That’s worth debating. He definitely would’ve been an upgrade for the team, but at what price? Considering that he’s in the tier below the league’s top-three tight ends (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz), paying $11 million annually would’ve been a risk. But considering how much he would’ve improved the position in a year where the tight end draft class is weak, it may have been worth it to get him on the team and provide Dwayne Haskins with a middle of the field weapon.

Debates aside, it’s encouraging that the Redskins were both in the discussion for Hooper but didn’t ultimately overpay for his services. That’s a sign that free agents will at least consider coming to the team now that Ron Rivera is in the fold but the team is also showing restraint and not trying to overpay for big names. That’s a good approach as they try to methodically rebuild their team the right way.

The ‘Skins may have tight end issues in 2020 after missing out on Hooper, but perhaps they will find a diamond in the rough with Logan Thomas, Richard Rodgers, or a rookie via in the draft. And if not, tight end can be their biggest priority during the 2021 offseason.