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Report: Austin Hooper to sign with Browns, becoming highest paid TE

Browns go all out for TE Austin Hooper, giving him top TE salary.

Austin Hooper of the Atlanta Falcons takes the field prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Austin Hooper has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns to become the highest paid tight end in the league, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and others. The Browns again have gone all in on offensive skill players, this time investing in a top-end tight end.

Travis Kelce was the highest paid tight end before Hooper’s new deal, at $9.4 million per season. Early word is that Hooper will get around $44 million for four years, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. That’s a nice chunk of change for a tight end that you can’t really put into the same league as Kelce and George Kittle just yet.

Hooper did have a breakout 2019, catching 75-of-97 targets for 787 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. The Browns must not feel good about tight end David Njoku taking a step forward, while the Falcons weren’t in the financial position to give Hooper a payday like this one.

The Browns are strong with pass catchers, as Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Kareem Hunt (if he stays) are all top targets on a team that will run the ball with Nick Chubb. Hooper’s fantasy football upside should take a hit this season due to fewer targets per game but he still will be a Top-10 fantasy play based on consistency.

Whoever the Falcons bring in could be a useful fantasy play, but he will need to have ability to compete with Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones for the kind of target share that Hooper had last season.