The Cleveland Browns managed to make another splash in free agency with the signing of former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. It appears quarterback Baker Mayfield may have played a part in helping the team seal the deal.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Hooper was impressed with what he saw from Mayfield when the Browns defeated the Falcons back in 2018:
“No question, being in a position that is dependent upon getting balls from the quarterback, it was definitely a part of the process for me,” Hooper said. “Playing against Baker Mayfield live, seeing his arm and seeing his competitive spirit and the way he rallies the guys around him, that is what sold me on him before I was obviously a free agent. This was two seasons ago now when we came up to Cleveland. I knew what he was about for a couple of years now so when the opportunity presented itself on the first day of legal tampering, I couldn’t turn it down.”
It is safe to say that Mayfield made quite the impression on Hooper back then. Witnessing his competitive spirit firsthand seems to have made his decision to sign with the Browns an easy one.
Hooper established himself as one of the best pass-catching tight ends during his time with the Falcons. He finished the 2019 NFL season with 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns en route to his second straight Pro Bowl selection.
Hooper will now have the luxury of playing in a much more talented offense than the one he was a part of in Atlanta. Although there are plenty of mouths to feed in Cleveland with Pro Bowl talent across the board, the onus will ultimately fall on Mayfield and the new coaching regime to make it work.