DeAndre Hopkins made his free agent decision on Sunday, inking a $26MM deal with the Titans. He turned down offers from other AFC suitors in the process, opting for the contract which included the most guaranteed money available.
The Patriots were long considered a serious contender to land the All-Pro wideout, having been the only team other than the Titans to host him on a free agent visit. New England, like Tennessee, submitted an offer to Hopkins, but a report from yesterday indicated the Patriots one he turned down was significantly lower than that of the Titans. Further details on that front have emerged.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s Sports Sunday program (h/t Darren Hartwell) that New England was willing to offer Hopkins a maximum of $15MM in 2023, but the majority of that figure was represented by incentives. The Titans, by contrast, guaranteed the five-time Pro Bowler $12MM with the potential for another $3MM via incentives.
The Patriots currently sit 10th in the NFL in cap space, with over $17.7MM in available funds heading into training camp. That means they could have afforded to match the Titans’ offer, but instead elected to hold firm with a more risk-averse approach to the 31-year-old, who has missed notable time during each of the past two seasons due to injury and suspension. They will now move forward with an in-house collection of receivers which is led by the recently-extended DeVante Parker, free agent addition JuJu Smith-Schuster, 2022 second-round pick Tyquan Thornton and veteran Kendrick Bourne.
Breer also provided insight into the Chiefs’ pursuit of Hopkins. The defending Super Bowl champions were long mentioned as a potential destination, in spite of their cap constraints. Before the draft, Breer notes, Kansas City offered a base salary of $4MM with incentives pushing the contract’s maximum value to $10MM. Hopkins was thought to be waiting for the Chiefs to free up money via a Chris Jones extension, but his Tennessee agreement has come before any developments on that front. Even with manufactured cap space for this season, Kansas City likely would not have realistically been able to outbid Tennessee.
Hopkins secured a lofty base package, along with a tall task in terms of reaching the maximum value of the pact through incentives. By choosing the Titans, though, he has added considerably to the team’s chances of reclaiming the AFC South title while ensuring better compensation compared to what the Patriots and Chiefs were willing to provide.