NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns are expected to release tight end Austin Hooper as a post-June 1 designation after two seasons, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Hooper is the third offensive veteran to be released by the organization over the past week joining center JC Tretter and wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Hooper, 27, had two years left on a four-year deal worth $42 million that he signed in March 2020. During those two seasons, the Stanford product accounted for 84 receptions for 780 yards and seven touchdowns. He missed a total of four games during that time period. 

If Cleveland had released Hooper outright, he would save the organization $2 million in salary cap space. As a post-June 1 designation, the team is spreading his guaranteed money out over two years, which saves $9.5 million toward the salary cap in 2022. However, those additional funds do not become available for use until June 1. It could essentially serve as an allowance to sign draft picks in less than three months. 

The Browns have placed the franchise tag on tight end David Njoku, which is expected to account for $10.9 million. It was initially reported that the team intended to keep Hooper, despite the franchise tag on Njoku, so there was obviously a change in thinking. Harrison Bryant had performed well during his rookie season and the team likely saw an opportunity to give those two players more targets while conserving salary cap space. Hooper graded out as PFF's 31st-ranked tight end, which was actually behind Njoku (No. 14) and Bryant (No. 30). 

Cleveland is one of the teams in the mix for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, along with the Falcons, Saints and Panthers. Last summer, Hooper, along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Landry, were some of the players that spent time training with quarterback Baker Mayfield. If the franchise acquires Watson, then one would assume Mayfield would be dealt elsewhere completing an overhaul of the skill talent in one off-season.