DeAndre Hopkins Heard ‘Rumors’ Of Patriots Trade Interest

Is a trade still possible?


May 22, 2023

With his future in Arizona still unsettled, could DeAndre Hopkins ultimately wind up in New England?

The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has heard that speculation, too.

During an appearance Monday on Brandon Marshall’s “I AM ATHLETE” podcast, Hopkins said he’s “obviously” noticed rumors in recent months linking him to both New England and the Buffalo Bills. He added that he didn’t speak with either team directly, and it’s unclear whether either still has interest in acquiring the Cardinals star.

“Obviously, of course I’ve heard a lot of rumors of people calling,” said Hopkins, who chose to skip the start of Arizona’s voluntary organized team activities. “I would definitely say the Patriots were one of the teams. Obviously, I would say the Bills were one of those teams that I heard. I didn’t have direct conversations, but seeing what’s on Twitter, what’s on Instagram, you’ve got to pay attention to some of those things. Really, those are the only two teams that I paid attention to that I was like, ‘All right, let me see if social media’s right.’ “

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hasn’t hidden his admiration for Hopkins over the years. Before the Patriots and Cardinals played last season, Belichick compared Hopkins to Hall of Famer Cris Carter and said he’s “every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.” What’s been less clear is whether Hopkins would have any interest in playing in New England, especially now that Bill O’Brien, who traded him away when both were with the Houston Texans, is the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

Hopkins didn’t address the O’Brien angle during his podcast interview, but his explanation of what he’s looking for at this stage of his career does align with what the Patriots can offer as a franchise.

“What I want is stable management upstairs,” Hopkins said. “I think that’s something that I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career, coming from Houston and then being in Arizona. I’ve been through three or four GMs in my career, so stable management. A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but people around him. I don’t need a great QB. I’ve done it with subpar QBs. Just a QB who loves the game like I do. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships, so for me, I think that’s the key. You’ve got to have a great defense. You’ve got to have a great D-line. …

“That’s why I love this process. I love this game. It teaches you a lot, and that’s it: great management, a QB who loves the game and a great defense.”

The Patriots have had the same owner since 1994 (Robert Kraft) and the same head coach/general manager since 2000 (Belichick). The jury still is out on Mac Jones as a franchise quarterback, but no one can doubt his passion for football. And New England is set to return nearly the entire defense that ranked third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA last season, with early-round draft picks coming aboard at cornerback (Christian Gonzalez) and defensive end (Keion White).

On offense, the Patriots took steps this offseason to improve Jones’ supporting cast by signing players like wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and tight end Mike Gesicki, but they still lack the type of true No. 1 pass-catcher that most of the NFL’s top teams feature. Hopkins turns 31 next month but is coming off a productive (albeit suspension-shortened) 2022 season and would upgrade a receiving corps that currently features Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Tre Nixon and sixth-round rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas.

Belichick’s relationship with new Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort, whom Hopkins praised, also could work in New England’s favor in potential trade talks. Ossenfort worked in the Patriots’ scouting department from 2006-19. Hopkins is set to earn salaries of $19.5 million and $14.9 million over the final two years of his current contract.

The Patriots began OTAs on Monday and are set to hold their first spring practice in front of reporters on Thursday.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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