The New England Patriots will host free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a visit next week, according to multiple reports. It’s Hopkins’ second-known visit, as the former Arizona Cardinal will travel to Nashville to meet with the Titans this weekend. If Hopkins is choosing between New England and Tennessee, the Patriots may represent a better fit.
Signing with the Patriots would reunite Hopkins with Bill O’Brien, who became Bill Belichick’s new offensive coordinator earlier this offseason. O’Brien and Hopkins previously spent six successful seasons together with the Houston Texans (2014-19). O’Brien pulled the strings throughout that time frame in which Hopkins established himself as one of the league’s most dominant wideouts by totaling 580 receptions for 7,800 yards and 52 touchdowns.
Hopkins is seeking to be a bonafide No. 1 receiver that soaks up targets. He’d instantly become the go-to target in New England or Tennessee. The Patriots project to be pass-happier than the Titans, which could suit Hopkins’ needs.
The Titans averaged a 30th-ranked 171.4 passing yards per game last season. The Patriots fared significantly better despite their own offensive struggles with an output of 208 air yards per contest. The Titans claim they want to be a more balanced offense in 2023, but we’ll have to see it to believe it, especially with Derrick Henry still on the roster.
There is the matter of Hopkins’ controversial relationship with O’Brien to consider. O’Brien was a driving force behind Hopkins’ trade from the Texans to the Cardinals. Hopkins was later quoted as saying “there was no relationship” between himself and O’Brien.
If Hopkins is searching for familiar faces, he’d encounter plenty in Tennessee not named O’Brien. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Charles London all spent time with Hopkins in Houston, as did various other Vrabel assistants. But Hopkins’ willingness to take a visit to Foxboro suggests that O’Brien’s presence isn’t a dealbreaker.
Hopkins is currently entertaining pitches from non-Super Bowl contenders. It indicates perhaps this is more about money than it is about winning. Both the Patriots and Titans are in positions to give Hopkins a multi-year contract. The Patriots are currently scheduled to possess roughly $96.5 million in cap space next summer, with the Titans slightly trailing that figure at $80.4 million, per Spotrac. The Patriots are in a better position against the 2023 cap ($12 million versus $8 million), but the Titans could easily create room by restructuring Harold Landry or extending Kevin Byard. New England and Tennessee could make financially fruitful offers to Hopkins. He’s said to be seeking a similar deal to what Odell Beckham Jr. received from the Baltimore Ravens.
Hopkins’ free-agent courting could be a drawn-out process. Will Hopkins take additional visits, say with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, or Cleveland Browns? All three suitors would provide Hopkins with a better chance at capturing a Super Bowl, but they may not possess the flexibility necessary to match the financial offer Hopkins may receive from New England or Tennessee.
The Hopkins sweepstakes are beginning to ramp up with confirmed pending visits to Foxboro and Nashville. There are arguments to be made for both New England and Tennessee. A reunion with O’Brien should ultimately pique Hopkins’ interest.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023