On May 26, 2023, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was released by the Arizona Cardinals, ending his three-season stay with the franchise.
ICYMI: The Arizona Cardinals released five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins
— Decyfr Sport (@DecyfrSport) May 27, 2023
Hopkins, who signed a $54.5 million contract extension in 2020, is still without a team, but it’s not due to a lack of talent. The receiver has been selected to five Pro Bowls during his time in the NFL and is one of just three active players with over 11,000 career receiving yards – a number that could be even higher if Hopkins wasn’t suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
So where could DeAndre Hopkins be putting up stats next season? Well, he does have some preferred destinations – or at least, some quarterbacks he wouldn’t mind catching passes from.
“One of my favourite quarterbacks, that I’ve been watching since he came into the league, is Josh Allen,” Hopkins said on the I AM ATHLETE podcast.
He then went on to name other signal-callers he admires, which included Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert.
But despite his affinity for some of the league’s best quarterbacks, there appear to be three popular potential landing spots:
New England Patriots
The Hopkins to New England rumours began almost instantly after Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was recorded speaking to Hopkins by NFL Films.
Before New England and Arizona’s Week 14 match-up in December of last year, Belichick spoke to the receiver saying: “I’m glad we only have to play you every four years, man.
“What a career you’re having. You missed half the season, [and you’re] still gonna lead the league in receiving.”
The Patriots are in need of help at the wide receiver position, as the team hasn’t had a receiver total over 1,000 yards in a season since the now-retired Julian Edelman did so in 2019, and New England’s leading receiver from the last three seasons, Jakobi Meyers, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in March.
Hopkins reportedly met with the team that lead the race to sign him earlier this month, an organisation that also boasts Bill O’Brien as their new offensive coordinator – and Hopkins previously worked with O’Brien during his time with the Houston Texans.
Despite just signing DeVante Parker to a three-year contract extension, the addition of Hopkins would prove to be a huge boost to the Patriots’ receiving corps and provide young quarterback Mac Jones with a real offensive weapon.
As Hopkins named the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen as his favourite quarterback in the NFL, the team have always had a shot at landing the receiver.
With Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs on one side of the offense and Hopkins on the other, one of the early favourites to win Super Bowl LVIII could build a high-scoring, and exciting, team around Allen.
Diggs is supposedly a fan of Hopkins and wants Buffalo to do all they can to sign him – and recent posts on social media have prompted fans to believe the pair could indeed be teaming up in New York state.
Buffalo’s general manager, Brandon Beane, recently appeared on the Pat McAfee Show and was asked about the possibility of Hopkins joining the Bills.
“We are all about people who want to come to Buffalo,” Beane said
“We love it, especially if they fit.
“Obviously, DeAndre’s a heck of a talent, he caught a Hail Mary on us in the COVID season.”
However, Buffalo’s current salary cap situation could force them to miss out on Hopkins, as it’s unlikely they’d be able to afford the receiver.
Before he met with the Patriots, Hopkins flew down to Tennessee earlier this month to meet with the Titans, and their head coach Mike Vrabel, in his first official visit as a free agent.
Just like the Patriots, the Titans are in need of productive wide receivers. The team traded A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in the last offseason, and their leading receiver for the year, Robert Woods, totalled just 527 yards. Plus, their entire receiving corps managed just two 100-yard games all year – Hopkins, on the other hand, had 103 and 159 receiving yards in his first two games back from suspension.
But, similarly to the Bills, the Titans do not have a large amount of salary cap space – so Hopkins would have to take a discount in order to move to Nashville.
No matter where he ends up playing in the 2023 NFL season, whoever signs DeAndre Hopkins will gain a weapon capable of transforming their entire offense.
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