Bill O’Brien’s return to Foxborough stands as a step in the right direction for both Mac Jones and a once-dysfunctional Patriots offense.
But could the Patriots’ new OC also give the green light on a significant free-agent pickup for New England?
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The DeAndre Hopkins sweepstakes is still ongoing, with the star wideout still mulling his options after getting cut by the Cardinals last month.
One of the roadblocks potentially preventing Hopkins from signing in New England is the rocky history between him and O’Brien during their tenure together with the Texans.
But according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, O’Brien would welcome a scenario where a player of Hopkins’ pedigree joins New England’s offense in 2023.
And with both the Chiefs and Bills reportedly viewed as dark horses for the 30-year-old Hopkins, New England remains in the mix as an intriguing destination.
“At this point, I’d say both [Kansas City and Buffalo] would sign him only at a discount,” Breer wrote Monday of Hopkins’ options in free agency. “The Chiefs gave money that would’ve gone to Hopkins to left tackle Donovan Smith. The Bills traded up for Dalton Kincaid, lessening their need for a chain-moving receiver and giving them another mouth to feed in an offense that has to get the ball plenty to Stefon Diggs.
“Who does that leave? Well, I think now that the price has dropped and a draft pick won’t be involved, the Patriots are worth considering. Despite perception out there, my sense is that O’Brien would be plenty on board with, not against, signing Hopkins (and Hopkins had his most productive years playing for O’Brien in Houston). The Browns are another team that’s been connected to him, because of Hopkins’s relationship with Deshaun Watson, but as it stands right now, I’d say that one’s unlikely.”
New England has significantly more spending power than the Chiefs and Bills when it comes to bidding for Hopkins’ services. While both the Bills ($1.39 million in cap space) and Chiefs ($652,557) have little fiscal flexibility, the Patriots have $14.2 million to spend, per OverTheCap.com.
And even though Jones may not be on the same tier as Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, Hopkins could be a key conduit that sparks a bounce-back season for the Patriots QB in 2023.
In just nine games with the Cardinals last season, the 30-year-old Hopkins reeled in 64 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns.
Hopkins finished his third season in Arizona with 79.7 yards per game, the 10th-highest mark among all NFL wide receivers in 2022.
Source: Boston Globe
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