“I’ve always wondered whether or not Bill Belichick was just kind of half-hearted in the pursuit of DeAndre Hopkins anyway because the way he’s handled his business in the past, he goes quiet, he goes secret, he goes stealth mode, and then he gets the guy,” Florio said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday, July 17. “And we didn’t even know he wanted him until he got him.”
“I always thought it was odd with Hopkins that it was so well known that the Patriots were interested,” Florio continued. “I really have wondered ‘is this a guy that Belichick, kind of deep down, didn’t want’. And it goes back to the whole culture fit, that I’m sure you guys have talked about, and the practice aversion that Hopkins reportedly has.”
NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry also previously reported via “several league sources” that Hopkins didn’t match the Patriots’ culture. It also didn’t mark the first time Hopkins’ practice habits came up as a concern, which The Athletic’s Tim Graham also reported about via three NFL executives.
“I feel like if Bill really wanted [Hopkins], he would have gotten him, and we wouldn’t have even known he was chasing him,” Florio concluded.
Patriots Could Have Afforded DeAndre Hopkins
New England left no doubt about interest in Hopkins since a mid-June free agency visit, and several Patriots players touted their interest in Hopkins joining the team. The Patriots had ample salary cap space at $17.74 million amid recent cap-saving moves.
Instead, Hopkins will take a two-year, $26 million contract with the Titans, which could pay him up to $32 million according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. New England arguably could have matched or surpassed that number.
“Is Bill Belichick going to regret not investing the extra three million? Who knows. Who knows how it’s going to play out. Who knows what his plan ‘B’ is,” Florio said on WEEI.
Patriots Banking on Potential
With Hopkins out of the picture, the Patriots don’t have a consistent No. 1 receiver, which WEEI’s Andy Hart described.
Hart noted the injury histories of JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker as causes for concern. However, Smith-Schuster “has the potential to catch 100 balls, top 1,400 yards and average more than 12 yards per reception”, Hart wrote. Parker “has the potential to be a 1,200-yard target”, Hart added.
“Then there’s Kendrick Bourne. He certainly has the potential to make plays and be a versatile piece to move around the formation,” Hart wrote. “Or he might fail to start more than five games and put up little more than a few hundred yards over the course of the season as a bit player, as has been the case more often than not over the first six years of his pro career.”
Hart also highlighted Tyquan Thornton‘s unmet potential. The 2022 first-round NFL draft pick has “done essentially nothing of note on an NFL field” amid 22 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 2022.