Patriots’ DeAndre Hopkins Offer Not ‘In the Same Ballpark’ as Titans: Report

DeAndre Hopkins

Getty The New England Patriots never came close to what the Tennessee Titans offered free agent DeAndre Hopkins.

The New England Patriots didn’t barely miss out on signing DeAndre Hopkins. They were never even close to acquiring the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

He reported what the Patriots offered Hopkins wasn’t “in the same ballpark” as the contract the Tennessee Titans handed the 31-year-old.

Hopkins reached an agreement with the Titans on Sunday, July 16, with the deal set to last two years and paying as much as $15 million in year one, per Fowler’s colleague Dianna Russini.

If the Patriots didn’t come close to those terms it shows they didn’t value Hopkins highly enough. That’s a risk given the lack of marquee pass-catchers among New England’s receiver corps.

Patriots Gambled With Low-Ball Valuation

Hopkins is entering his 11th NFL season and has also missed 15 games with hamstring and knee injuries, as well as suspension since 2020. Those are ample reasons for the Patriots to have approached any potential deal with caution, but to have lowballed the negotiations is a risk head coach Bill Belichick didn’t need to take.

The risk could have been mitigated with incentives. That’s how the Titans put things together, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Providing targets for Hopkins to meet and still prove his ability to play at a high level would have given the Patriots some cover. The bigger risk was not going all in for the three-time, first-team All-Pro when no other wideout on the roster can match Hopkins’ track record.

Patriots Have Put the Onus on Struggling Wide Receivers

By essentially limiting their own ability to sign Hopkins, the Patriots have put the onus squarely on a group of receivers already struggling to convince the critics. DeVante Parker has a 1200-yard season from his days with AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins, but his 47 catches and 539 yards in 2022 hardly justified the three-year contract extension he received earlier this offseason.

Parker will underpin a group set to be headlined by veteran JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has missed 13 games the last two years with shoulder and head injuries. It doesn’t bode well that Smith-Schuster, signed from the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, also missed practice time through injury in June.

The Patriots need Smith-Schuster healthy because Kendrick Bourne has yet to prove himself since leaving the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. Bourne has been mentioned as potential trade bait and even as a possible casualty of the salary cap this offseason.

Bourne can make plays through the air and on the ground, but the same is true for breakout candidate Tyquan Thornton. The latter is entering his second season needing to prove he can stay healthy and merit a bigger workload.

Thornton stepping up would be welcome and ensure the Patriots aren’t relying on a rookie like sixth-round pick Demario Douglas belying his draft status. Douglas is an intriguing fit for this offense, but an established name like Hopkins would have guaranteed production on the outside, per numbers from Next Gen Stats.

Quarterback Mac Jones needs a proven chain-mover and source of big plays from the perimeter if he’s going to take the step forward Belichick needs. If Jones can’t up his game, the Pats will remain hamstrung by a one-dimensional and small-ball offense.

That will be a recipe for failure in a suddenly loaded division.