It’s been officially reported that the Colts have declined Malik Hooker‘s 5th-year option. This makes him a free agent following the 2020 season and most likely, will end up off of the Colts roster after the season if he cannot produce a career year. The team has brought in Julian Blackmon from the NFL Draft to potentially replace Hooker as the starter once he’s fully healthy. Hooker’s future with the team is 100% dependent on how he plays next year.
Why he’s on the chopping block: Hooker’s potential was sky-high since day one in the NFL, but he hasn’t produced up to the standard that the team was hoping for. After beginning his career with 3 interceptions in his first 7 games as a rookie, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out the rest of his 2017 season.
After returning the following season, he hasn’t been nearly as productive and has still been an inconsistent player due to his injuries. Hooker, in 27 combined games in the last two years, has only produced 4 interceptions, 95 total tackles, and 7 passes defended.
With Julian Blackmon set to enter the fold once he returns from his knee injury, and Khari Willis already locked in at the 2nd starting spot, Hooker has a foot out of the door given the players at the position. The ball-hawking safety hasn’t produced anything close to what he accomplished in his rookie season. Hooker needs to have the most productive season of his career without injury if the team will look to resign him.
Why he’s worth keeping: Hooker, while not producing close to what has been expected of him, has been derailed by injuries. His potential puts him among the best players at his position, however, he needs to be able to put together a consistent season in order to remain a part of the team’s future moving forward. Hooker has the advantage of being the current starter alongside Willis at safety for the beginning of the next season. Hooker needs to start strong while Blackmon gets fully healthy. If Hooker can put together a great start, he’ll be in a good position to get a second contract.