Patriots Face ‘More Aggressive’ Challenger for DeAndre Hopkins: Report

DeAndre Hopkins

Getty DeAndre Hopkins remains a free agent with training camp just weeks away.

As the New England Patriots remain in the hunt for prized free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, an AFC rival puts its foot on the gas a little harder.

“The Tennessee Titans and Patriots have made offers, the Titans have been more aggressive to this point, and Hopkins hasn’t been in a rush to sign,” ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported on Sunday, July 9. “One reason for Hopkins to wait a bit longer is to leave open the possibility of another team entering the mix, potentially increasing his market.”

Hopkins visited both the Patriots and Titans in mid June but declined the contract offers from both teams. In addition, Hopkins has remained in touch with both the Patriots and Titans according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Kansas City Chiefs also have interest in Hopkins, based on Fowler’s report. It could come down to the Chiefs clearing salary cap space with a Chris Jones extension according to Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily.

With less than three weeks before training camps kick off, Hopkins could wait it out as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport previously reported. Hopkins could capitalize after training camps start, too, if a receiver injury occurs with another team, Rapoport noted.

For the time being, potential day won’t favor Hopkins as NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry sees it. Hopkins previously had a $54 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals before the team released him on May 26.

DeAndre Hopkins Has Much to Offer New England

Hopkins still has plenty left to offer after he put up 106 receptions for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last 19 games. The five-time Pro Bowler missed time during the past two seasons due injuries in 2021 and a NFL suspension for PED use in 2022.

If Hopkins joins the Patriots, he will reunite with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. The two worked together with the Houston Texans from 2014 to 2020 when O’Brien served as head coach and notably traded Hopkins to Arizona.

New England needs a No. 1 receiver such as Hopkins to aid third-year quarterback Mac Jones. The Patriots lost top receiver Jakobi Meyers in free agency, and JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the Patriots amid his knee injury from last season.

Patriots receiver DeVante Parker‘s $33 million extension also won’t prevent a Hopkins signing. The Patriots have $17.74 million in salary cap space to work with.

Patriots Can Ill Afford to Miss Out on DeAndre Hopkins

New England can’t afford to miss out on Hopkins for many reasons from the quarterback situation to the bottom of the receiver depth chart.

Jones took a step back last season with Meyers as the top receiver, and the former Alabama quarterback faces a make-or-break year in 2023. With Smith-Schuster’s knee in question, the Patriots have little depth with recent success on the field.

Parker needs a bounce-back season after his average of 35.5 receptions, 527 yards, and 2.5 touchdowns over the past two years. Parker improved his yards per catch, 17.4, with the Patriots in 2022 though his play didn’t take off compared to his final season with the Miami Dolphins in 2021.

Meanwhile, Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne‘s future remains in doubt after a subpar 2022 season. Bourne only caught 35 passes for 434 yards and a touchdown.

After those veterans, the Patriots have rookies Demario Douglas, Ed Lee, and Kayshon Boutte plus second-year receiver Tre Nixon, who also doesn’t have NFL regular season experience.