Top 3 Landing Spots for Malik Hooker

Where will FA Malik Hooker sign?

By: Gladys Louise Tyler

There is one truth, if Malik Hooker could stay healthy, he would be a top-five safety in the free agency market.  Heck, the Indianapolis Colts would have picked up his fifth-year option.  Unfortunately, Hooker has been injured a lot: his rookie season 2017 played in seven games before his season was cut short with MCL/ACL tear; 2018, he was plagued with hip and foot issues; 2019 season ended with a torn meniscus, and 2020 another season cut short with a torn Achilles.

So as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, Hooker is still out of a job.  Luckily, for Hooker the safety class this year isn’t particularly strong. Perhaps there will be a team that will take a chance on an injury-prone veteran?

TENNESSEE TITANS

The Titans ranked 29th in passing yards allowed last season.  They also allowed opponents to convert an NFL-worst 51.9% of their third downs. The Titans also lost Malcolm Butler, who was tied for the team lead with four interceptions. Kenny Vaccaro, who recorded one sack, five passes defended, and 72 tackles last season from their secondary. Also, free agency casualties included Adoree Jackson and Desmond King. Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson allowed a 146.3 passer rating, while King was responsible for a 107.5 passer rating with 44 solo tackles, two sacks, and five missed tackles. 

The Titans also have a very recent reputation for giving injury-prone defensive players a one-year make-it deal.  Ahem, enter Jadeveon Clowney’s one-year try last season.  The Clowney experiment was a failure.  Clowney played eight games and ended the season after eight games to have surgery on his left meniscus.  For $13 million, the Titans received zero sacks, 15 solo tackles, six assisted tackles, and one forced fumble.

According to CBS, the projected market value for free-agent safeties is between $11-$15 million. 

Due to injury concerns, Hooker will command nowhere near that amount.  His projected contract is for one year, $2million, with zero guarantees.  The cash strap Titans could take a chance on that.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

The Raiders’ secondary ranked 31st in the NFL for the 2020 season; this makes four straight years they have been languishing on the bottom. 

The Raiders did re-acquire the services of Karl Joseph. Joseph was the Raiders’ first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  He will join the Gus Bradley-led defense with 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram, who played half a game as a rookie, and cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and last year’s first-round selection Damon Arnette. 

There is also the expectation of what a Bradley secondary will look like.  Historically, Bradley’s defense, specifically the secondary, required a safety that was athletic and rangy.  A person who can cover large areas of the field as the center of the cover 3 defense.  Think Earl Thomas in the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom prime days. 

The Raiders do have eight picks in this year’s 2021 NFL Draft.  However, the safety class is not the strongest.  Their best hope is Trevon Moehrig from TCU.  Even then, the services of a veteran who can (when healthy) fill the role in Bradley’s defense is an option.  Especially when his services can be acquired for minimal cost.

Hooker has amassed 117 total tackles, one tackle for loss, 11 passes defended, seven interceptions, and two fumble recoveries in his 34 NFL games.  In a one-year deal, gambling on his health, if he stays healthy, is a win for the Raiders. 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Per PFF, the Jaguars’ secondary finished last season ranked 30th.  Their safety Josh Jones was graded out 39.2 coverage grade. 

The Jaguars did bolster their secondary with Rayshawn Jenkins and Johnathan Ford’s signings while keeping Josh Jones.  But this would be a chance for Hooker to be reunited with his college coach Urban Meyer and defensive backs coach Chris Ash. 

The problem is the Jaguars already bolstered their secondary and have 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to add depth. 

MALIK HOOKER

Hooker’s fit is a defense that will employ him in a single-high safety role.  The problem is his durability.  His best season per Pro Football Focus was 2018, where he graded out at 81.6.  Since then, he has not graded above 60.

His new projected contract on one year, $1.25 million with zero incentives, should be palatable enough for a team to give him a try.  The Titans have proven they will take a flyer on injured players, and for a lot more than Hooker’s price.  The Raiders seem to always be in a gambling mood, this season being no different.  The Jaguars will give Meyer a chance to rehabilitate one of his collegiate players. 

Hooker just needs to stay healthy for a season, something he has yet to accomplish.

Top Destinations For Malik Hooker

Where will free agent Malik Hooker sign?

By: Chris Moore (Twitter: @fantasy_moore)

Malik Hooker has been a playmaking safety for the Indianapolis Colts ever since he entered the NFL. But, injuries have plagued Hookers promising young NFL career, and he is now to be a free agent this offseason. The Colts have found their new star at the safety position in Julian Blackmon. Therefore, they declined Hooker’s fifth-year option, and Hooker will be playing in another jersey in 2021.

So, what does the former 2017 first-round pick bring to an organization? Hooker has shown when he is healthy, he is still a quality safety that can provide reliable coverage over the middle of the field. I expect Hooker to receive a one-year prove-it deal with another NFL team this offseason. Hooker will be a low-risk, high-reward player in free agency. Expect multiple NFL teams to be interested in the former first-rounder.  Let’s get into my top three destinations for Malik Hooker in 2021.

Malik Hooker Career Stats

Seven interceptions  

11 passes defended

Two fumbles recovered

81 solo tackles

124 combined tackles

Jacksonville Jaguars

I’m not sure if most of you are aware, but the Jaguars are a match made in heaven for Malik Hooker. Not only will Hooker face the former team that gave up on him twice a year if he signs with the Jaguars, but he will also be playing for his former college coach Urban Meyer. The last time Hooker played for Meyer, they won an NCAA Championship together.

 The Jaguars can also upgrade the safety position, and Hooker won’t be expensive in free agency. While money isn’t an issue for the Jaguars with around $77 million in cap space, spending low on Hooker can provide the team to break the bank for other stars. Hooker is still only 24 years old; Meyer can rejuvenate his star college safety career again.

San Francisco 49ers

In one of my other articles, I talked about how I would love to see Malik Hooker join the 49ers. Like Hooker, we have seen a promising young defensive who suffered from injuries rejuvenating his career in San Francisco. The 49ers took a chance on Jason Verrett, and it worked wonders for them. Verrett had a great 2020 season, and he is now going to be heavily coveted by teams this offseason. I could see something similar happening to Hooker if he went to the 49ers.

 The 49ers will have an opening at the safety position, with Jaquiski Tartt most likely leaving in free agency. The 49ers won’t have to break the bank to bring in Hooker either. The 49ers have several key free agents they need to focus on bringing back, and they won’t have money to break big on safety.

The 49ers currently have around $13 million in cap space. Hooker would be a low-risk, high-reward player for the 49ers, who still has upside. Hooker has a chance to go to San Francisco and get his career back on the right path.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders appear to be a fascinating destination for Malik Hooker in 2021. There’s no question the Raider’s defense needs to improve in 2021, and adding a new playmaker to the secondary would be a massive step in the right direction for the Raiders. The Raiders are heading into 2021 with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Bradley comes from Seattle, whose defense was notoriously known as the legion of boom. The Seahawks defense consisted of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at the safety positions. Both were known for being ball hawk safeties who were great at attacking the football.

The Raiders already have Jonathan Abram on the roster for one of their safety spots. Adding a playmaker like Malik Hooker could be an excellent decision for the Raider’s defense. A young safety tandem of Jonathan Abram and Malik Hooker sounds promising if they both can stay healthy. The move would make a lot of sense, as Bradley and the Raiders are looking for a player to fill the “Earl Thomas role.”

Considering Hooker has recorded seven interceptions throughout three seasons, he could be exactly what the Raiders are looking for.  With around $18 million in cap space, the Raiders have more than enough money to get a deal done with Hooker if they want him.

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