The Facts: Hooper ran into Baker Mayfield in 2018 on one of those days the Browns QB woke up feeling especially dangerous — during the Browns’ 28-16 victory over Hooper’s Falcons — and it helped sell him on signing a free-agent deal with the Browns last week. “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 on Tuesday. "Playing against 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."
Diehards Line: In that game, Mayfield behaved like the No. 1 overall pick, completing 17 of 20 attempts (85%) for 216 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 151.2 rating. Hooper, who became the highest-paid tight end in the NFL with his four-year contract worth $42 million, including a $10 million signing bonus and $23 million guaranteed, spoke with Mayfield during the decision-making process and again after he made up his mind. “We had a nice phone call," the two-time Pro Bowler said. “Just really trying to get to know the guy. ... It was a productive phone call.” The fact that Kevin Stefanski, who runs a lot of two tight end sets, or 12 personnel, was the Browns’ new head coach was a huge selling point as well. Indeed, Hooper doesn’t mean the demise of 2017 first-round pick David Njoku, who’s back in vogue with Stefanski in charge.