The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver teased a Patriots’ highlight clip from the 2017 Super Bowl win, which featured former quarterback Tom Brady. Hopkins eventually deleted his Instagram video from a gym, according to NESN’s Zack Cox, who caught the video on Monday.
New England had been linked to Hopkins and trade and free agency rumors this offseason. The Arizona Cardinals released Hopkins on May 26.
“The brief snippet of Tom Brady tossing a touchdown pass to James White could be completely unrelated to Hopkins’ plans for free agency, but it caused a stir among Patriots fans hoping to see the five-time Pro Bowler sign with New England,” Cox wrote.
New England Needs DeAndre Hopkins
The Patriots need another top receiver amid the departure of Jakobi Meyers and addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason. New England doesn’t have Pro Bowl-caliber talent at receiver after Smith-Schuster.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has a subpar season in 2022, and the offense could use a boost with a player of Hopkins’ stature. Head coach Bill Belichick needs to turn around the offense this year, or it could cost him his job.
Belichick notably showed interest in Hopkins last season amid an exchange when the Patriots played the Cardinals in December 2022. That interest might be mutual amid Hopkins’ admission of the Patriots rumors.
DeAndre Hopkins’ Hints on a Destination Vary
Hopkins described criteria for his next destination on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast, and it largely matched Patriots qualities. He wants “stable management”, a quality defense, and he noted that he doesn’t need a superstar quarterback.
New England has long-term stability with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. The Patriots had a top-10 defense last season, and Jones clearly didn’t look like a top-10 quarterback last season.
However, Hopkins wants to win, and he previously hinted at more interest in AFC contenders Buffalo and Kansas City in a video appearance. Nick Shook of NFL.com named the Bills and Chiefs as two of the best fits for Hopkins.
Perceived Rift Between DeAndre Hopkins and Bill O’Brien in Question
Shook also noted that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien could be an obstacle for Hopkins joining the team. Hopkins previously told Sports Illustrated “there was no relationship” between them in Houston from 2014 to 2020 amid a trade.
O’Brien, the Texans head coach at the time, sent Hopkins to the Cardinals after six seasons of working together. Things didn’t work out for O’Brien in Houston for 2020, and he re-joined the Patriots in March after a year stint as the offensive coordinator with Alabama.
One former Texans staff member from that year, wide receivers coach John Perry, believes the two could work together again. Perry worked with both O’Brien and Hopkins from 2017 to 2020.
“I think adult relationships are always complicated no matter what you do. But the thing is when you look at DeAndre Hopkins and his relationship with Coach O’Brien, both of them brought out the best in each other,” Perry said via MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels. “I still have a strong relationship with coach (O’Brien) and with DeAndre. He and I speak all the time.
“I know they would easily be able to work together again because they’re both professionals and both want the same thing, which is just to play at a high level and give their team the best opportunity to win.”