“What I’ve continued to hear from different people down there is that this is really gonna come down to Bill [Belichick],” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said on the “Toucher & Rich” podcast on Friday, June 16. “And it’s sort of self-explanatory with everything here for the last 23 years.”
Hopkins visited the Patriots on Wednesday and Thursday but left without a signed contract. It marked his second free agency visit after a prior visit with the Tennessee Titans, which all came two weeks after his May 26 release from the Arizona Cardinals.
Belichick, the Patriots’ longtime head coach and general manager has been long-known to not spend big — even on Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss only made north of $10 million once in his three full seasons with the Patriots in the 2000s.
Hopkins isn’t Moss, but Hopkins can produce at a high level amid 11,298 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns in his career. Whether or not Hopkins can land his Spotrac projected value of $23.2 million remains the question for the Patriots or any team.
“But I think one thing that came across is this is going to have to be on Bill’s terms,” Breer said. “And I think the fact that Bill and Hopkins spent one-on-one time [Thursday] at the end of the visit, tells me that those terms have been discussed.”
“And are Bill’s terms now getting closer to what Hopkins’ terms for going to a team would be? That to me is the question,” Breer added. “Because I still think money is a factor. If money was less of a factor, I think he’d be a Buffalo Bill or a Kansas City Chief now.”
Money vs. a Super Bowl Ring Question Lingers for DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins notably teased interest in both the Chiefs and Bills over the Patriots in a video earlier this offseason.
Instead, Hopkins visited the Titans and Patriots — both teams that missed the playoffs in the 2022 season. However, Breer noted that Hopkins could choose the Chiefs closer to the season.
In addition, Hopkins was in contact with the Titans amid the Patriots visit according to Breer. The Titans notably offered Hopkins a contract before leaving Nashville, but he continued his search instead.
DeAndre Hopkins Still Not Part of the Patriots ‘Familia’
Hopkins teased his interest in the Patriots during the visit with an Instagram photo that featured himself and New England linebacker Matthew Judon. While five-time Pro Bowler used the phrase “La familia” on the photo, Judon indicated that Hopkins hasn’t joined the family yet.
“He still has that decision to make to where he wants to play,” Judon told J.P. Smollins of WPRI on Thursday. “But he’s a very talented football player. Everything that he’s done in his career can’t be taken away from him. So, if he wants to join the team, we’ll love to have him. But if not, we’ve played him before — so we know how to guard him as well.”