DeAndre Hopkins has the talent to benefit Mac Jones in the quarterback’s third season with the New England Patriots, but Bill Belichick must weigh whether that benefit is worth the cost.

The All-Pro wide receiver was released by the Arizona Cardinals last week, and multiple teams have emerged as candidates to sign Hopkins, who turns 31 on June 6. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported Thursday the Patriots are among those teams interested in signing the wideout.

New England likely would have to work things around with its salary cap if Hopkins is seeking a significant payday, but there is a case to be made that Hopkins would be a solid fit. And there might not be lingering tension between him and former Houston Texans head coach and current Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

However, NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry spoke with multiple league sources and revealed Friday the potential concerns if Hopkins were to sign in New England.

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“He is not thought to be, I’m told, a ‘program fit.’ Hopkins ‘doesn’t practice,’ ” an offensive assistant told Perry. “That sentiment was echoed by others who identified the Patriots as a ‘rigid’ working environment where an emphasis on intense preparation is the modus operandi.”

The offensive assistant also told Perry: “That’s not him. He’s never been that guy.”

The Athletic’s Tim Graham casted doubt Thursday on the Buffalo Bills signing Hopkins and also added there is concern around the league about Hopkins’ practice habits. He was suspended six games last season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances and missed two games with a knee injury.

“I’ve heard a lot of negativity about me not practicing when I first came to Arizona,” Hopkins told reporters in December 2020, per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. ” … But, there’s a reason that I play football and they watch. And there’s a reason that people are in positions for a reason. So, I really didn’t listen to it. I don’t listen to it. I listen to my grandfather, and he was saying, ‘Man, Arizona, they really kind of on you right now because you’re not practicing and all the critics in the sports people,’ but, my grandfather knows who I am, also, and he knows how productive I am on that football field. And he knew what I was going through, and the people who are giving me stuff, they don’t know what I was going through or dealing with, and I don’t let my news, or really what’s going on with me, be publicized for the future.

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“And tell those people who say I don’t practice to come watch me play the game.”

Even if the practice issues are overblown, as Hopkins seemed to suggest, the on-field fit is up in the air.

“There are members of the Patriots personnel department who believe Hopkins is no longer the game-changing talent he once was,” Perry wrote.

Belichick gave a predictable answer this week when it came to his team’s rumored interest in Hopkins, but it’s a move he and his staff could ponder, as 2023 is expected to be a tough season for the Patriots and Hopkins would help alleviate the pressure on Jones in Year 3.

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Featured image via George Walker IV/USA TODAY Sports Images