Not long after the news of DeAndre Hopkins‘ first free agent visit came out, his second has been revealed. In this case, the veteran wideout will be meeting with a team frequently connected to him since his release.
Hopkins will visit the Patriots next week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). His visit in New England will come after his Titans one, which was reported earlier this week. The latter came as a surprise considering the lack of attention Tennessee received with respect to expected Hopkins suitors, but New England is in a much different position in that regard. Since being released, the 31-year-old has been linked to the Patriots as one of many AFC teams on the lookout for a boost in their passing game.
The fact that the Patriots have Bill O’Brien in place as their offensive coordinator has, of course, been mentioned as a potential deterrent for a Hopkins deal. The former was at the helm of the Texans when he traded the latter to Arizona in 2020, leading to questions about how a reunion between the two would play out. However, O’Brien’s presence is not considered an obstacle to the team’s ability to acquire the three-time All-Pro.
The Patriots currently have $14.3MM in cap space, putting them in better shape financially than many of the other suitors linked to Hopkins both before and after his Cardinals release. The Chiefs and Bills – long considered the frontrunners to land the five-time Pro Bowler – would be hard-pressed to carve out the needed cap space if Hopkins remains intent on landing a deal similar to the one Odell Beckham Jr. got with the Ravens (one year, $15MM in guranteed money). A Patriots deal of any kind would significantly alter the team’s WR room.
New England saw Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor depart in free agency to the Raiders and Ravens, respectively. Their lone outside addition on the open market was JuJu Smith-Schuster, who enjoyed a succesful one-year stint in Kansas City and will face sizeable expectations given the production he was brought in to replace. The rest of the team’s depth chart features the likes of DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton and Kendrick Bourne, along with sixth-round rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas.
Hopkins would add experience and pedigree to that group, one which is looking to take a step forward compared to last season. New England ranked 20th in the league in passing yards in 2022, and the addition of O’Brien is expected to help quarterback Mac Jones improve in Year 3. Acquiring Hopkins will also give him a proven commodity in the pass-catching corps, though the list of serious Hopkins suitors will certainly be worth watching as it continues to take shape.