As the 2023 season continues getting closer, the time for teams to finish setting up their rosters is here. Even with the NFL free-agency market slowing, there are a few interesting players still looking for a new squad. One of those, and probably the most important, is former Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins, who looks like he’s in no rush to find a new team, has made it clear though where and with what QBs he would like to play with though. The former Texans and Cardinals star has stated that he would both like to play for a title contender and that he would like to land a deal like Odell Beckham Jr.’s with Baltimore, with $15 million guaranteed for one year.
In a market that looked OK at best when it came to wide receiver options, Hopkins looks like the top prize in the carnival. Even with his production levels not being the same, this is the kind of player who when needed to show up and ball out, does that.
While asking for a deal similar to OBJ’s might feel like a stretch, teams have not shied from showing interest in the former Clemson Tigers star. It’s a given that Hopkins will play this coming season. But where?
Keeping in mind that he wishes to play in a team that can offer him a chance to contend, let’s break down which teams make the most sense for Hopkins.
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Making The First Move: Titans
Free-agent WR DeAndre Hopkins is slated to fly to Nashville on Sunday for a visit with the #Titans, per sources.
D-Hop and Mike Vrabel were together in Houston. Now Vrabel’s team gets the first visit with Hopkins, the five-time Pro Bowl pick released by Arizona last month. pic.twitter.com/UUyUjLqa7Z
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 7, 2023
The Tennessee Titans will be the first to formally play host to Hopkins in a free-agent visit this weekend. The Titans, in dire need of a receiver, or two, or more, have managed to creep in out of the blue, while not being pitted as a favorite by any NFL news page.
With the wish list, Hopkins made clear for what he wants; the Titans could not be further away actually, but hey, go Tennessee!
For a team that cannot offer Hopkins a chance to compete for a title any time soon, this would feel like more of a money move than anything else. Still, considering the Titans’ cap space situation, with the team having $7.9 million left, and Hopkins, again, looking for a deal like OBJ’s, it’s clear that both parties would have to meet halfway.
Hopkins would love nothing more than to play with Patrick Mahomes. It feels as if anybody who gets a chance to play alongside KC’s megastar QB automatically starts getting prepped for winning a Super Bowl.
One thing that’s clear is Mahomes and the Chiefs don’t need Hopkins. They don’t. With Travis Kelce, KC’s passing game is already strong enough. But what about the receivers? Yeah, what about them?
Let’s be bluntly honest. If Mahomes wasn’t playing for the Chiefs, a wide receiver corps made up of players like Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is as good as issuing a cashier’s check with no money in your account.
Now though, if you add a guy like Hopkins, and make him WR1 from the get-go, you might have something going there. With Andy Reid putting him to work as a coverage trap to open up the field, and later on as a deep-ball threat, Hopkins and the Chiefs sound right.
If the Chiefs aren’t necessarily your top pick for Hopkins, how about the NFC team that faced them in the last Super Bowl and that is poised to make a title run again? Yes, one of this season’s Super Bowl LVIII Odds frontrunners, is the Philadelphia Eagles.
I know the Eagles don’t need Hopkins. They have arguably the best WR duo in the league with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. But why stop at a duo, when you line up the best WR trio in the league, with Hopkins taking that WR3 slot? Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus are good options for Philadelphia, but they are nowhere close to Hopkins.
Within the list of QBs Hopkins said he wants to play for Jalen Hurts is right up there. It would be up to Eagles GM Howie Roseman to find a way to work around the team’s cap space and get the deal made if the player decides he wants to go East.
The Buffalo Bills maybe don’t want to say it, but we all know it. They are a couple of downs away from going into desperation mode if they can’t make it to the Super Bowl. Sometimes, it feels as if making it to the game might cut it for Buffalo, even while always being top NFL odds favorites week in and week out. The Bills can worry about winning the title once they reach the game.
With Hopkins putting Bills QB Josh Allen high up on his list of preferred QBs he would like to play with, the Bills should seriously consider making the move. Why? Because Stefon Diggs needs help in Buffalo’s passing attack. Gabe Davis is good at WR2 but he’s not what this team needs if it wishes to give the Cincinnati Bengals, LA Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets a run, all while chasing the Chiefs.
Secondly, the Chiefs landing Hopkins instead of Buffalo might be the finishing blow this team needs to start imploding. Falling short is no longer an option at Orchard Park, that’s for sure. So making a move to land Hopkins, especially after signing DE Leonard Floyd to a $9 million, one-year deal, thus keeping him away from KC, could end up becoming a pivotal move.
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Just for the “LOLs”: Browns
I know the Browns aren’t contenders or fit any quota that Hopkins is looking for in his new team, but hear me out. Hopkins’ best years in the league were playing with DeShaun Watson as his QB. In the three seasons they spent together in Houston, Hopkins rose to prominence as one of the best wideouts in the NFL. Earning three first-team All-Pro honors while catching passes from Watson, the sky was the limit.
Now, with Watson ready for his first full season with the Cleveland Browns, and Hopkins looking to once again regain his best level, why not have a reunion in Ohio?
Watson needs all the help he can get in 2023 to prove to Browns fans that the investment made in him was not a fluke. Bringing in a player like Hopkins on a one-year deal could end up paying huge dividends for the QB, the receiver, and the team.
Just imagine Hopkins and Amari Cooper running routes together. That in itself could launch Watson back into superstardom and automatically turn the Browns into playoff contenders at the least.