It’s uncommon for an impactful NFL star to be available in free agency in June, but wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was released in late May by the Arizona Cardinals. The former Cardinal and Houston Texan is beginning his free agent tour with the Tennessee Titans, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
We break down the latest Hopkins rumors and determine whether the Titans should sign the 31-year-old.
DeAndre Hopkins Rumors: Should the Titans Sign the Star WR?
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who was in Houston with Hopkins in 2017, previously sounded as if the team wouldn’t pursue the star receiver, saying he’s “focused on the players we have here.”
With only $8 million in cap space and a roster that’s closer to rebuilding than competing, it would’ve made sense for the Titans to pass on Hopkins. There’s also the quarterback factor that doesn’t bode well for the Titans.
While Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has found a second breath to his career with the franchise, he’s struggled to produce in an impactful way over the last two seasons. Not having a star receiver has played a part in that, but he’s nowhere near the caliber of QB Hopkins previously said he’d like to play with.
Hopkins said the top-five quarterbacks he’d like to catch passes from include Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) June 7, 2023
Conveniently, each of those teams is considered to be playoff contenders or better. He’s also heard recruiting pitches from his close friend and former teammate Deshaun Watson, who said he “has no idea” if the team will add Hopkins.
There’s certainly interest in Hopkins — even if no team traded for him when he was on Arizona’s roster — but the financial cost matters.
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said he’d “never rule out” signing Hopkins, and he wants to add players who want to be in Buffalo, but Hopkins’ contract will be an obstacle. Kansas City also doesn’t have much financial flexibility to sign Hopkins to a fair market-level deal.
Though he’s 31, Hopkins is still quite good, thanks to his ability to play outside or in the slot. An elite route runner with strong hands and incredible body control, Hopkins ranked fourth in overall route win rate, second in win rate against man, and second in air-yard share in 2022. Putting him on any offense will work.
The Titans, devoid of proven receiver talent, would certainly benefit from his addition. Despite swinging and missing badly on Julio Jones two years ago, Hopkins is a more calculated acquisition. He’d cost zero draft assets and has played at a high level as recently as last season, whereas Jones’ body began breaking down prior to being dealt to Tennessee.
Second-year Titans receiver Treylon Burks lauded Hopkins’ professionalism and caliber of play and said he’d be a quality addition to the team. It’d be fascinating to see whether Hopkins would willingly sign for a limited amount of money on a team that is as run-heavy as it gets over taking a more favorable situation elsewhere.