Although Hopkins only joined the franchise this offseason, Titans general manager Ran Carthon might look to move on from the star wide receiver ahead of the Oct. 31 trade deadline with the team’s struggles.
In the event he is moved, where are some potential landing spots for Hopkins?
Why Moving DeAndre Hopkins Makes Sense
Hopkins joined Tennessee back this offseason when he signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the franchise. At the time, it seemed like a move that could bump the Titans up to contend for the AFC South title and beyond.
It has not played out that way through the start of the season. Tennessee has lost four of its first six games and notched one of its two wins in a narrow 27-24 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints. Matters only got worse in a Week 6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens as quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with an injury.
It’s unclear at this point whether Tannehill will miss Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons or even be sidelined for longer, but his injury was significant in the defeat.
That loss could have gone a long way toward convincing the Titans that they should be sellers at the trade deadline. Plenty of difficult games remain on the schedule, and they currently sit last in the AFC South — well behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and potentially even the Houston Texans.
All of that could make it the right time to move on from Hopkins, especially given the state of his contract.
Just over $1.1 million of Hopkins’ money this season is in base salary — a number that goes north of $8 million next season by the contract’s current structure. That low number would be even lower for any team trading for him as they would only pay his remaining salary and thus could make it relatively easy to move to several contenders.
Best Fits for a Hopkins Trade
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s been no secret this season that the Chiefs (6-1) receiving corps has not quite been at the level of years past, though Patrick Mahomes has made it work with the group he has.
Kansas City has relied heavily on tight end Travis Kelce (48 catches, 525 yards, and four TDs) along with the combination of Rashee Rice, Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore making contributions at wide receiver. None of them have been world beaters by any means, though, and drops have been an issue this year.
Acquiring the sure-handed Hopkins could go a long way toward shoring up those weaknesses.
The veteran wide receiver would provide perhaps their most prolific option out wide since trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. Hopkins has remained productive this year with 27 catches for 376 yards despite Tennessee’s poor quarterback play and could get to another level with Mahomes throwing him the ball.
Kansas City’s Super Bowl window remains firmly open, and acquiring Hopkins could be a pivotal step in solidifying its chances at contending for another.
The Lions (5-2) are another team that looks to be among the league’s contenders even after last week’s blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens and could perhaps use some reinforcements at wide receiver.
Detroit has gotten strong production from Amon-Ra St. Brown (57 catches, 557 yards, three TDs), Josh Reynolds (21 catches, 384 yards, three TDs), and Kalif Raymond (16 catches, 207 yards, one TD), but could certainly stand to add another proven option like Hopkins.
Jared Goff is out to a strong start leading the Lions’ prolific offense. He could benefit from having another playmaker, particularly one with Hopkins’ experience, that could deliver come playoff time.
Detroit could take another step toward asserting itself among the NFL’s contenders by moving for a bona fide playmaker in Hopkins.
New York Jets
The Jets (3-3) are smack dab in the middle between the obvious playoff contenders and sellers but could decide to be buyers at the trade deadline with the team’s potential.
Aaron Rodgers going down on the team’s first series of the season has put a damper on the campaign. New York has rallied from a three-game skid, though, with two wins over the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles in Weeks 5 and 6 before taking its bye.
Although Zach Wilson is far from a star at quarterback, he has at least been a capable option this season who has helped lead the offense to enough success in some games, given the defense’s fortitude.
Adding Hopkins to the mix of wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard alongside tight end Tyler Conklin could elevate the Jets’ receiving corps to another level and help make Wilson’s life easier. It could also be a move if and when Rodgers returns, whether late this season or next year.
This seems like a swing worth taking for the Jets if they want to give contention a go this year without Rodgers.