The Patriots brought in Bill O’Brien to be their new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The odds of O’Brien’s former No. 1 receiver joining him in New England reportedly are slim.
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe on Friday reported the Patriots are a “long shot” to acquire Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who played under O’Brien in Houston. Despite head coach Bill Belichick’s overwhelming public praise for Hopkins and the Patriots’ lack of elite talent at receiver, a trade for the five-time Pro Bowler would be a “pretty major surprise,” per Howe’s report.
Howe noted how Hopkins’ relationship with O’Brien soured during their six seasons together — a tenure that ended with O’Brien trading him to Arizona in what was widely viewed as an awful deal for the Texans.
From The Athletic:
Never say never, but it would be viewed as a pretty major surprise if the Patriots traded for Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Coach Bill Belichick has a strong affinity for Hopkins, something that was on display when the teams met in Week 14 on “Monday Night Football,” which has led to speculation the Patriots could target Hopkins in a trade this offseason. However, Hopkins fell out of favor with new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien before O’Brien traded him out of Houston in 2020. A possible reunion? Maybe, but consider it a long shot.
Belichick raved about Hopkins before that Week 14 matchup, saying he’s “every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against” and comparing him to Hall of Famer Cris Carter. He later approached Hopkins on the field to say he was “glad we only have to play you every four years.”
With the Cardinals entering a possible rebuild after firing head coach Kliff Kingsbury and hiring a new general manager (Patriots alum Monti Ossenfort), Hopkins has been rumored as a trade candidate.
If the Patriots want to upgrade their receiving corps this offseason, they’ll likely need to do it through the trade market or the 2023 NFL Draft. They won’t find a Pro Bowl-caliber wideout in free agency, as players like Jakobi Meyers and JuJu Smith-Schuster headline a weak crop of available veterans.
Meyers has led the Patriots in receiving yards in each of the last three seasons. New England has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2019, when Julian Edelman tallied 1,117 in Tom Brady’s final season with the franchise.