Since his departure from the Arizona Cardinals, free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins continues to have his name plastered as a possible late addition for numerous NFL contenders.
But on Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns had members breaking their own silence on the possibility of adding Hopkins, including one with past ties to the five-time Pro Bowl wideout. Additionally, don’t count the New York Jets as a potential suitor, as head coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday, “Nah, we love our current group,” when asked if they’d be in on the Hopkins sweepstakes.
Deshaun Watson Speaks on Potential DeAndre Hopkins Signing
Deshaun Watson was asked by members of the media for his thoughts on seeing his former go-to wideout become available.
“I think any situation for DHop would be perfect for him, but of course, with me having another weapon along with all the other great weapons we have in that locker room and in that room, we always love to add talent,” Watson said.
Watson and Hopkins emerged as a dynamic pairing when both were with the Houston Texans. Hopkins earned four of his five Pro Bowl nods in Houston. As Watson describes, a player of Hopkins’ caliber makes life easier for quarterbacks.
“He just makes the throws a lot easier. His catch radius is super, it’s probably the best in the league. And I mean just the things he does, he just made my job a lot easier, so I just put the ball in his direction. He made the plays,” Watson added.
Those were the words from the Browns’ QB1. But what did the team’s head coach have to say about a possible Hopkins-to-Cleveland connection?
Kevin Stefanski Reacts to Hopkins’ Free Agency and Browns Possibility
Watson sounds open to seeing Hopkins in a Browns uniform. But what about the Browns’ head coach? Kevin Stefanski shared this reaction when asked about Hopkins:
“I really, really like our wide receiver room. I love the guys that are in there. [General manager] Andrew [Berry] and his crew are always looking at every avenue, so I won’t comment specifically on the player other than to say that I really like our roster.”
The head coach sounds like he’s downplaying the thought of Hopkins coming to Cleveland. One look at his WR room for 2023, and it’s easy to see it is filled with newcomers.
Among them is Elijah Moore, a former 2021 second-rounder from the New York Jets. Veteran Marquise Godwin, 32, is also on board. Additionally, the Browns drafted Cedric Tillman out of Tennessee in the 2023 NFL Draft. Of course, Cleveland has two other notable veterans in past Pro Bowler Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
‘He Can’t Run Anymore,’ One Executive Says
While there’s speculation on Hopkins’ fit with Cleveland, there is NFL personnel who told NFL insider Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated on Tuesday that they don’t believe the 30-year-old is the same WR he once was.
“I asked one veteran team executive what’s still there, and he answered, via text, ‘Not much. He can’t run anymore,'” Breer revealed in his report.
Breer also spoke to one more anonymous personnel executive.
“Another answer was pretty different — ‘He’s still a good player. Good route runner, big, physical target that can play a ball in the air. He’s still a threat.'”
A third source who spoke to Breer played both sides of it.
“Still great hands, he is not going to separate, not much of a deep threat, but very strong, and makes contested catches as well as anyone in the NFL,” the AFC exec said to Breer. “Does not love to practice — I can’t imagine that’ll get any better. And when things don’t go well, you’re always gonna be leery. All right, what kind of drama are we gonna get from this guy? When things are great, he’s great. When things go south, his true colors show a little bit.
“But he always shows up on game day,” the executive continued. “He’s gonna have to go to a team that knows what they’re getting. You cannot expect a perfect-attendance type of worker.”
Did Hopkins Reveal His Next Destination?
On Hopkins’ end, he did more than post he was working out at the gym. He gave fans the belief he may have revealed his next destination.
Hopkins took to his Instagram account Monday to post a story at the gym. But it was what was on the television screens that sparked reaction and speculation about his next suitor — Hopkins was watching the New England Patriots.
While it was past Super Bowl highlights, the Patriots have been linked as a potential suitor for Hopkins as they aim to reignite their offense.
But now, the Browns and Patriots have emerged next to Hopkins’ name…along with a familiar place.
Latest: Houston Texans Back in the Fold?
It’s time to not rule out a Houston homecoming for Hopkins.
Revealed by John Crumpler of Texans Wire on USA Today Thursday, Hopkins was a visitor at the Texans’ facility.
“Multiple sources have confirmed to me that free agent wide receiver and former franchise star DeAndre Hopkins visited with the Houston Texans while in Houston this past week,” Crumpler said.
It would become a full circle moment for Hopkins and Houston. The WR spent seven seasons with the team after Houston drafted him in 2013. This time, the Texans are under the direction of DeMeco Ryans and has C.J. Stroud pegged as the QB of the future.
Hopkins would additionally walk into a revamped WR unit that no longer has 2022 leading wideout Brandin Cooks and added veteran Robert Woods. The team also has rookies Tank Dell and Xavier Hutchinson.