Austin Hooper could be veteran option at tight end for Texans
The Houston Texans have a lack of experience at tight end as they head into free agency.
The club has just third-year Brevin Jordan and second-year Teagan Quitoriano under contract. While Mason Shreck may be 29 years old, he has logged 26 career games since 2018 — essentially a season and a half’s worth of games over the past five seasons.
According to Nick Shook from NFL.com, the Texans could add experience to their tight end room by signing former Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans tight end Austin Hooper.
The rebuilding Texans are going to have a tough time convincing big-ticket free agents to come to Houston, even with DeMeco Ryans now in charge. Hooper, however, might be a perfect fit. Hooper was released by the Browns in 2022 as a cap casualty and landed in Tennessee, where he mirrored his Cleveland production while running routes in one of the league’s worst passing offenses. Hooper could at least match those totals in a more prominent role with the Texans, especially if they find a long-term answer at quarterback. Houston has 2022 draft choice Teagan Quitoriano, which could create an obstacle for featuring Hooper, but at 28 years old, he would provide the Texans with a veteran pass-catching option for whichever quarterback Houston proceeds with in 2023. And as we all know, tight ends are often a young quarterback’s best friend.
The Texans ostensibly have such a veteran, albeit not on the roster. Jordan Akins, 30, caught 37 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns through 15 games, three of which he started. Even though he is a former Texans 2018 third-round pick, he spent the offseason and training camp with the New York Giants. Houston signed Akins to the practice squad early in the season, and he slowly made his way onto the active roster as a viable starting tight end.
Comparatively Hooper caught 44 passes for 441 yards and two touchdowns through 17 games, two of which he started.
New offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik comes from the San Francisco 49ers where George Kittle has an established presence at tight end. The Texans may be more content to let something homegrown flourish rather than dip into free agency at the position.
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