Patriots Out On Hopkins?
The hot topic this offseason has been a potential trade for DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals’ All-Pro wide receiver. Reports have revealed that the Patriots were pursuing a trade for Hopkins, with speculation that they were one of his top 5 teams by his friend Adam “Packman” Jones.
However, those rumors appear dead in the water, as sources have confirmed that New England has stopped pursuing the star wideout and moved on to other options. This decision surprises many, considering the Patriots’ need for an offensive upgrade at WR1.
To make matters worse, it looks like the two teams pursuing Hopkins most aggressively at the moment are AFC rivals, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Hopkins is coming off a season in which he caught 64 passes for 717 yards in nine games for Arizona.
Why Are The Patriots Out On Hopkins?
The Athletics Jeff Howe reported that the Patriots did inquire about Hopkins early in free agency but have since determined that his contract may be too pricey for their liking. Hopkins is due almost $30 million for the 2023 season and more than $25 million in 2024. (Full details on his contract here.)
Bill Belichick seems to think the price is too steep and wants to pursue other options, even with the report that Hopkins would restructure his deal to make a trade work. It’s also worth noting D-Hop has missed a significant number of games in the past two seasons due to suspension and injury, which could also be a deterrent for New England.
Looking At Free Agency & Trade
While the news that the Patriots are no longer pursuing Hopkins may disappoint some fans, it’s important to remember that there are other options for the team to explore. For example, they could try to make a move for another high-profile wide receiver, such as Odell Beckham Jr. or Jerry Jeudy, through free agency or trade.
A Jeudy trade would reunite Jones with his college roommate at Alabama and could make for an excellent long-term duo to build around. While signing OBJ would come with more risk due to age and injury (Beckham is coming off an ACL tear), it wouldn’t require the Patriots to move any draft capital.
Options In The Draft
New England could also look to the draft, where they hold the 14th overall pick. The 2023 draft class has several highly touted wide receivers that could fit the bill as a number one receiver, including Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Ohio State and Zay Flowers of Boston College.
But again, draft selections are more like lottery tickets without the assurance that they can produce at the next level. So it might be in the Patriots best interest to try and look at a more proven option before the draft.
The Time Is Now For Belichick
With the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawrence leading teams in the AFC, the Patriots must surround Jones with talent that can take him to the next level. A young quarterback needs that security blanket they can trust in the big moments to make a play. Just look at the jump Josh Allen made in year three once he got Stefon Diggs from Minnesota.
So now that Mac is entering his third year at quarterback, there can be no excuses for not equipping him with the tools he needs to be successful in 2023. It is on Bill Belichick to make sure the signal-caller has the talent and coaching around him to demonstrate whether he can be the long-term answer under center for New England.
In the end, this coming season will be a litmus test for Mac Jones, and Belichick must put him in the best opportunity for success. Anything less would be setting the quarterback up for failure after a wasted sophomore season at the hands of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. The time to move is now.