It looks like DeAndre Hopkins will be a New England Patriots player before the new NFL season gets underway, but with the opening fixtures still a little while away, neither party seems in a hurry to seal the deal just yet.
The wide receiver has played for two teams since starting his career back in 2013: the Houston Texans, between 2013 and 2019, and the Arizona Cardinals from 2019 to 2022.
His successful career ran into trouble at the start of last season, however, when he was suspended for the first six games of the campaign after being adjudged to have violated the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
The idea that he’d be released by the Cardinals had previously seemed unthinkable because he had a no-trade clause in his contract. His form was too good and he was too integral for the team to look to break that clause, but it’s understood that the suspension voided it and the Cards decided to let him go.
A number of teams are thought to be interested in him, but last week Hopkins visited the Patriots and posted pictures of himself on Instagram with Patriots outside linebacker Matthew Judon inside the club’s locker room. The caption accompanying the picture said: “La Familia”.
Judon isn’t the only fan Hopkins has on the Patriots’ team though. Quarterback Mac Jones spoke of his admiration for the player, saying: “I think DeAndre is a great player. You watch his film from college all the way through the NFL, he’s done a great job. So obviously we’d love to have him, but we do have a great group of guys.”
Hopkins has also visited with the Tennessee Titans recently, so a move to the Patriots is far from a done deal. What’s more, there’s also the thorny issues of financials to consider.
Hopkins is understood to be looking for a deal of around $12-$13 million, but reports suggest that could be a little too much for the Patriots, especially as Hopkins is 31 years old and starting to approach the end of his career.
Still, for a player of Hopkins’ quality, the Patriots may be looking to extend their budget and take a risk on his age. If they do he’d certainly be a welcome addition to the roster, both on the field, among the team’s passionate fanbase, and within the locker room.
Wherever he does go, it’s clear he has an immense level of self-belief. This week, he took to social media to reassure potential future team-mates that he’ll bring success to them and their team. “Whoever’s in my future wide receiver group, I promise I will make your job easy.”
A huge amount of confidence there then, but he’s got the stats to back it up. Hopkins played 35 games for the Cardinals during his time with the team, making 221 passes for 17 touchdowns and 2,696 yards. He has five All-Pro and five Pro Bowl appearances, making him a hugely enticing prospect for teams going forwards.