The New England Patriots have missed a significant opportunity to bolster their offense with the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, Hopkins has chosen to sign with the Tennessee Titans, leaving the Patriots to contemplate what could have been.
The decision ultimately came down to finances, with Hopkins reportedly agreeing to a lucrative two-year, $26 million deal with the Titans. Additional incentives could potentially earn him another $6 million, making it an attractive offer for the veteran receiver.
Throughout his free agency tour, Hopkins prioritized finding the best financial deal available. The Patriots and the Titans were the only teams he met with, and the Titans ultimately presented the most enticing contract. As a result, Hopkins will don the Tennessee uniform for the next two seasons, leaving New England empty-handed.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Patriots’ offer fell far short of what the Titans were willing to pay for Hopkins’ services. Despite having approximately $10 million more in available cap space than the Titans, the Patriots were not willing to make a substantial investment in the 31-year-old receiver.
This missed opportunity is unfortunate for the Patriots, particularly considering the uncertainties surrounding their offense heading into the 2023 season. Hopkins would have provided young quarterback Mac Jones with a true number one receiver, the most accomplished weapon in Jones’ budding NFL career. His presence on the field would have forced opposing defenses to account for him on every play, a dynamic the New England offense has lacked in recent years.
Adding Hopkins to the Patriots’ receiving corps would have given them an excellent opportunity to evaluate Jones in his third NFL season. With Hopkins as a target, it would have been easier to assess whether Jones is the team’s quarterback of the future. Unfortunately, this assessment will now be more challenging without Hopkins in the mix.
Moving forward, the Patriots will rely on the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton to lead their receiving group. They will also count on the newly acquired Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry at tight end, hoping that new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien can unlock their potential. O’Brien’s presence is expected to stabilize the offense after last year’s failed experiment at offensive coordinator.
While Hopkins would have come at a significant price for the Patriots, they do have other pressing needs on offense, particularly at the tackle positions and in the running back role. Perhaps head coach Bill Belichick will allocate the funds initially intended for Hopkins to address those areas.
By allowing Hopkins to join the Titans, the Patriots are displaying confidence in their current wide receiver group for the upcoming 2023 season. Only time will tell if this confidence proves justified or if they will come to regret letting a dependable veteran receiver slip away to another team.
Source: cbs news