The New England Patriots need a playmaking receiver. DeAndre Hopkins needs a new team.
It makes sense that the two sides will reportedly meet next week, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Hopkins has already visited the Tennessee Titans and there have been reports that he might be interested in going back to the Houston Texans.
Other teams that could use Hopkins like the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills might not have the salary-cap space to entertain the last-minute free agent, who was cut by the Arizona Cardinals in late May. The Patriots have enough cap space to make something work, and a big need.
The Patriots don't have a true No. 1 receiver on the roster, unless you count DeVante Parker. Hopkins is slowing down at age 31 but showed last season he still can be productive. The Patriots have taken on big-name veteran receivers before — Randy Moss worked out great, Chad Ochocinco did not — and it seems Hopkins would fit.
We don't need to wonder what Patriots coach Bill Belichick thinks of Hopkins. Before the Patriots played the Cardinals last season, Belichick heaped praise on Hopkins.
“He’s got tremendous ball skills,” Belichick said, via MassLive.com. “He catches everything. Has great hands. He’s long so he’s never covered, even if he’s covered there’s a place where the ball can be that he can get it and still make the catch. Great coordination on the sidelines. And he doesn’t really look it, but he’s a strong kid. You see him break tackles. He’s a strong kid in terms of creating separation on routes, yards after contact, tough yards like around the goal line or that extra yard for a first down type of thing.
“He’s a smart football player. Very savvy. I’d say his ball skills are at the very elite level of guys that I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are. The Cris Carters of the world. Guys like that. I think he’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.”
Signing Hopkins would set up an uncomfortable reunion with Bill O'Brien. O'Brien, the Patriots' new offensive coordinator, traded Hopkins to Arizona when he was Houston's head coach. He reportedly bristled when Hopkins asked for a pay raise.
But the Patriots can't worry about any of that. They need a receiver. And it seems they're going to at least see if Hopkins is interested in coming up north.