DeAndre Hopkins Rumors: Are the Ravens Front-Runners?

The thought of DeAndre Hopkins being paired with Lamar Jackson on the Baltimore Ravens was exactly that on Thursday: a thought.

But now, Hopkins is a free agent, and his next NFL home is up in the air. Could the All-Pro WR actually join Jackson in Baltimore?

Is Baltimore the Favorite To Land DeAndre Hopkins?

Various national betting sites have the Ravens high on the list of DHop’s landing spots.

DraftKings gave Baltimore +650 odds of luring in the five-time Pro Bowler. They’re behind the current favorite, the New York Jets, who were given +700 odds.

But another reason behind the idea of a Hopkins/Ravens linking is his recent comments on I AM ATHLETE.

MORE: Are the Arizona Cardinals Tanking in 2023?

“I love Lamar Jackson,” Hopkins said to hosts Brandon Marshall and Ashley Nicole Moss. “Lamar Jackson is one of my favorite athletes since I’ve been watching sports. I’ve been a fan of Lamar for a long time. I’d be lying to say if I didn’t say … it would be a honor [if my career allows me] to play with a great guy and great quarterback like Lamar.”

Those comments were made before the Cards officially parted ways with the All-Pro wideout. Now, Hopkins is free to sign elsewhere as a free agent — and that includes the Ravens.

How Hopkins Changes Complexion of Ravens Offense

Jackson having Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. on the same roster is something NFL fans would most likely see in the Pro Bowl. Now, the chances of landing Hopkins just increased for Baltimore.

The Ravens already made their first aggressive move in coaxing Jackson to stay by signing Beckham to a $15 million deal. But Baltimore has other speed elements in place with veteran Nelson Agholor and first-round draft selection Zay Flowers out of Boston College.

This is still a Ravens offense that doesn’t know who will be the official WR1. While Beckham has his history of being a dominant No. 1, he accepted a WR2 role with the Los Angeles Rams opposite of Cooper Kupp during his last NFL stop in 2021.

Plus, he’s coming back from his second ACL tear during Super Bowl 56, which prevented him from playing in 2022.

Agholor, meanwhile, has never been a lead target in all of his NFL stops. Flowers, as a rookie, has a strong chance to establish himself as Jackson’s top wideout as OBJ continues his recovery.

Hopkins, however, has a chance of becoming the top aerial focal point of the offense if brought over.

The 6’1 “, 202-pound WR would give Baltimore someone who can haul in contested targets with his impressive leaping ability. But he’s also stout after the catch, eluding defenders in the open field. While he’s attacked defenses deep, he’s proven to be a short-to-intermediate attacker over the years, especially when there’s an opening created by the other wide receivers drawing coverage matchups.

All that speed on the field can mean less bracket or double coverage for Hopkins, especially on plays where he’s lined up next to OBJ.

Dilemma With Baltimore Adding Hopkins Involves OBJ

Count Beckham as the reason why a Hopkins to Ravens deal comes with a dilemma.

Per Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer on Saturday, Beckham’s deal impacted a nullified trade involving DHop between both the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. Hopkins’ hefty contract, plus what OBJ was handed by the Ravens, were the reasons why the two teams shied away.

MORE: Analyzing the Ravens’ Best and Worst-Case Scenarios in 2023

With Hopkins projected in the $15 million range, similar to OBJ, it would put the Ravens in the red for their salary cap. Following Jackson’s blockbuster $260 million deal and the Beckham addition, Baltimore now sits at $11,757,827 in 2023 salary cap space, according to Over the Cap.

Hopkins and the Ravens would have to find a way to work with a more workable deal that’s miraculously below $10 million if both parties were to link. But with two AFC contenders, the Chiefs and Bills, having their trade idea blow up, the Ravens can attempt to swoop up Hopkins and increase a new kind of odds before the season — their odds of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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Are the Cleveland Browns Showing Interest?

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.

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.

MORE: Highest-Paid WRs in the NFL in 2023

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.

MORE: Where Does Hopkins Rank Among the NFL’s Best WRs?

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, in the last 24 hours, the Browns and Patriots have emerged next to Hopkins’ name.

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What Could the Vikings Star’s Next Contract Look Like?

If there’s someone out there capable of bettering the $15 million deal Odell Beckham Jr. received this offseason from the Baltimore Ravens, it’s another star who thrives in purple: Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings. And there’s new chatter that the All-Pro wideout could be in for a league-record deal.

What Could Justin Jefferson’s New Deal Look Like?

Per NFL insider for ESPN Jeremy Fowler, Jefferson could become the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history with his next deal.

“Jefferson is considered by many around the league as the very best receiver in the NFL,” Fowler said. “So, we are talking, you know … Aaron Donald money, $31 million per year? We shall see.”

MORE: Highest-Paid WRs in the NFL in 2023 

That statement alone could mean the following for Jefferson:

  • If his annual money matches what Donald makes, Jefferson could earn more than Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams — both earn around $30 million in their annual salary.
  • Hill earns $30 million tops from his four-year, $120 million deal he signed with Miami. Adams earns under $30 million at $28 million annually with the Las Vegas Raiders.
  • Jefferson’s potential next deal would also place him ahead of Super Bowl 56 MVP Cooper Kupp, who is in the ballpark of $26.7 million per year.
  • Matching or surpassing Donald would put Jefferson closer to $32 million per year, surpassing Donald as the highest-paid non-quarterback. Donald signed his blockbuster deal in 2022 during the summer following his Super Bowl win.

Jefferson has cemented his reasons for deserving a lucrative deal. Since his arrival to the league in 2020, he’s yet to miss a Pro Bowl.

He caught the league by storm his rookie year with his impressive 1,400-yard campaign that included an average of 15.9 yards per catch. He’s since improved his season reception totals each year from 108 to 128 receptions last season. Plus, he elevated his yardage from 1,616 in 2021 to 1,809 in 2022.

Is There a Dilemma With Paying That Much for Jefferson?

Handing Jefferson a record-setting deal could put the Vikings in a bind. Minnesota may not be able to afford to keep its key fixtures together.

Already, the Vikes lost defensive pillar Eric Kendricks to the Los Angeles Chargers as the inside linebacker became too expensive to keep. Now, a new Jefferson deal could provide leverage in forcing a future change at quarterback.

There was chatter about Minnesota moving on from veteran Kirk Cousins, who has also earned his own Pro Bowl nods the past two seasons while helping turn Jefferson into his own All-Pro talent.

Jefferson resetting the salary cap market might limit Minnesota’s financial flexibility in retaining Cousins. He’s set to become a free agent in 2024. That’s also when Jefferson’s rookie contract expires.

MORE: Where Does Jefferson Rank Among the Best WRs in the NFL? 

Minnesota would have to be in a position where they make QB a high priority for the 2024 NFL Draft, make a splashy move to keep Jefferson happy, or simply pivot to 2022 fifth-rounder Jaren Hall post-Cousins.

But for now, the focus is on Jefferson and if he’ll “Griddy” his way into the NFL record books financially.

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Who Is on the Bears’ Coaching Staff?

The Chicago Bears are set to head into their second season under head coach Matt Eberflus. After a tough first season as a head coach, Eberflus and his team of coaches hope the Bears can improve on their 3-14 record from last year. Let’s take a look at who is on the Bears’ coaching staff in 2023 and what changes there have been since last season.

Chicago Bears Coaching Staff

  • Matt Eberflus, Head Coach
  • Luke Getsy, Offensive Coordinator
  • Alan Williams, Defensive Coordinator
  • Richard Hightower, Special Teams Coordinator
  • Jim Arthur, Head Strength and Conditioning
  • Dave Borgonzi, Linebackers
  • Zach Gable, Offensive Quality Control
  • Andre Curtis, Safeties
  • Jim Dray, Tight Ends
  • Isaiah Harris, Player Engagement/Strength and Conditioning
  • Justin Hinds, Assistant Defensive Line
  • Jon Hoke, Cornerbacks/Passing Game Coordinator
  • Andrew Janocko, Quarterbacks
  • Kevin Koch, Defensive Quality Control
  • Noble Landry, Assistant Strength and Conditioning
  • Chris Morgan, Offensive Line
  • Pierre Ngo, Assistant Strength and Conditioning
  • David Overstreet II, Assistant Defensive Backs
  • Carlos Polk, Assistant Special Teams
  • Travis Smith, Defensive Line
  • Luke Steckel, Assistant Offensive Line
  • Tyke Tolbert, Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers
  • David Walker, Running Backs
  • Omar Young, Assistant Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers
  • Tim Zetts, Assistant Tight Ends

New Changes to Bears Coaching Staff in 2023

When you look at the Bears’ coaching staff for 2023, a lot of it looks very similar because, for the most part, it is. The core of Eberflus, Getsy, Williams, and Hightower remains the same this season as they look to build on the start they made together in 2022.

The changes in Chicago are relatively subtle. Omar Young has been promoted to assistant quarterbacks and wide receivers coach, and Kevin Koch has been named a defensive quality control coach after serving as an assistant to Eberflus last year.

MORE: Chicago Bears 2023 Schedule

Jon Hoke returns to the Bears as the cornerbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Hoke was previously with the Bears between 2009 and 2014, serving as the DBs coach. During his last spell in Chicago, their 111 interceptions were tied for fourth in the NFL.

The other new coaches are Zach Cable (offensive quality control), Isaiah Harris (player engagement/strength and conditioning), and Pierre Ngo (assistant strength of conditioning). Two other changes to the staff are not formally listed on the official website. Those are Carla Suber (director of wellness) and Mike Wiley Jr. (director of mental skills/performance).

Outwardly, fans will likely not notice much difference in terms of what we see on the sidelines. The same four faces remain prominently involved. Offensively, we likely won’t see it translate to any scheme changes, but there could be some differences schematically in terms of pass defense. They might only be subtle, so they won’t always be immediately noticeable.

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Ranking Donovan Jackson, Cooper Beebe, Sedrick Van Pran, and Others

Which centers and guards populate the list of the best iOL prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle off preliminary viewings? Whether you’re looking for established veterans, versatile glue pieces, or young guns still making their mark, the 2024 class has plenty to offer in the summer months.

Ranking the Top iOL in the 2024 NFL Draft

It’ll be a few years before we truly get a read on how good the 2023 NFL Draft’s interior offensive line class was. There weren’t many guarantees across the class, but there were many tackle-to-guard converts, positionally-flexible prospects, and players with notable transitions still to come.

Position switches are a constant caveat in the iOL discussion every NFL Draft cycle, but the 2024 NFL Draft class may have more prospects who are settled into guard or center designations. And with that clarity should come a heightened degree of security — at least at the very top.

Here’s a look at how the 2024 NFL Draft iOL group looks right now and which prospects are in play for potential Round 1 capital.

10) Zak Zinter, G, Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines will remain champions of the offensive line in the 2023 college football season after the team’s blocking unit won the Joe Moore Award in both 2021 and 2022. The additions of LaDarius Henderson and Drake Nugent in the transfer portal will help compensate for the losses of Ryan Hayes and Olusegun Oluwatimi, and Zak Zinter is a returning impact player at guard.

MORE: FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades!

Zinter was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, and he could also go on to be a solid offensive lineman at the NFL level. He doesn’t have great length, but at 6’6″, 315 pounds, he does have very good size and mass. He’s an intelligent blocker who understands moving angles and can handle stunt exchanges, and he actively uses his frame to wall off lanes.

9) Kyle Hergel, G, Boston College

Kyle Hergel’s college football journey began all the way back in 2019 when he first played at North Dakota with the Fighting Hawks. He leveraged several years of success there to a transfer opportunity with the Texas State Bobcats. Two seasons of starting reps at right guard later, he’s transferring again, this time to Boston College, looking to hone his skills.

At 6’2″, 314 pounds, Hergel should work seamlessly into the rotation at guard for the Eagles. He’ll be an older prospect in the 2024 cycle, but he has a high floor and some projected versatility between guard and center. He’s well-leveraged, with solid proportional length, and he has active hands to go along with ample foot speed on the attack.

8) Isaiah Adams, G, Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini are slowly becoming reliable producers of NFL Draft talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Illinois’ offensive line was one of the best composite units in college football in 2022. Players like Julian Pearl, Alex Pihlstrom, and Alex Palczewski heavily contributed to that reputation, and so did left guard Isaiah Adams.

Both Adams and Pearl return in 2023, and Adams, in particular, might have the most exciting upside of the previously mentioned group when projecting to the NFL. At 6’5″, 315 pounds, the former JUCO transfer has a powerful frame and can generate immense force at contact. He routinely stays square in pass protection but also has the athleticism to match and block in space.

7) Matthew Lee, C, Miami (FL)

The Miami Hurricanes have almost entirely revamped their offensive line entering the 2023 season. They added Javion Cohen from Alabama at guard, who you’ll see on this list shortly. They also added Matthew Lee from UCF — a second-team All-AAC performer in 2022, who brings his tantalizing talent and playstyle to the Atlantic shore in 2023.

What you’ll find watching Lee is that he simply plays at a different tempo. He’s a quick athlete, and he’s incredibly urgent off the line, carrying relentless energy into contact. He may not be the biggest center at 6’4″, 295 pounds, but he has solid proportional length and power capacity, and he unleashes all of it in one-on-one situations.

6) Christian Mahogany, G, Boston College

You naturally look to the blue-blood programs for the highest-quality offensive line talent. But there are also a few under-the-radar programs sprinkled across the nation that have claims to quality OL production. Boston College is one of those teams. They can boast Chris Lindstrom and Zion Johnson as their own, and Christian Mahogany is next in line.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Watchlist

A torn ACL in the 2022 offseason prevented Mahogany from entering the 2023 NFL Draft group, but he’s now expected to return to form across from Hergel. At 6’3″, 335 pounds, Mahogany isn’t quite the athlete that Johnson was coming out, but Mahogany is an absolute mauler who combines terse physicality and overwhelming frame density to impose his will.

Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

5) Javion Cohen, G, Miami (FL)

Javion Cohen started 14 games for the Alabama Crimson Tide as a redshirt freshman in 2021, then came back to start 10 more games in 2022. The former four-star recruit now takes his talents to Mario Cristobal’s squad in Miami, where he’ll aim to make a name for himself on a newly-formed blocking unit. He has the talent to distinguish himself.

Cohen’s 6’4″, 305-pound frame has the ideal density, but he also has solid proportional length and power capacity when torquing defenders. He’s a physical blocker who also has the necessary straight-line burst to get in space as a pulling lineman and cover ground. He has room to keep developing, but his athleticism and build carry immense upside.

4) Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

There was a time in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle when Layden Robinson was anticipated as a potential early-round prospect. But the Texas A&M Aggies took their lumps in 2022, and Robinson himself was not immune on the interior. He’ll return in 2023 with his sights set on rebounding. He has 22 games of starting experience, and his tools remain a selling point.

At around 6’4″, 330 pounds, Robinson has one of the most imposing builds in the upcoming guard class. He’s very well-leveraged at his size, but he also has elite proportional length and knockback power to go with his sheer mass. There is some measured stiffness that comes with his specific build, but his hands and power can be suffocating at contact.

3) Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State

Had he declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, Cooper Beebe would’ve been graded higher than O’Cyrus Torrence and Steve Avila on my board. He was a standout tackle in 2021, then moved to guard in 2022, where his traits translated in dominant fashion. He ultimately won Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, and he’s back again in 2023 to impose his will.

At 6’4″, 332 pounds, Beebe has tremendous size, width, and mass as an interior blocker. He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s mobile enough to get out in space as a pulling blocker, and he maximizes his opportunities with stellar angle awareness and football IQ. And at contact, he has the strength, power, and length to torque his opponents into submission.

2) Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

For all 30 games of the Georgia Bulldogs’ back-to-back Championship seasons, Sedrick Van Pran was the starting center. After redshirting in 2020, Van Pran took the starting role and ran with it, and he returns in 2023 as arguably the best center prospect in the nation. In fact, he might’ve challenged Joe Tippmann and John Michael Schmitz in the 2023 cycle.

MORE: Top OTs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Van Pran doesn’t quite have the power that Tippmann boasts, and Schmitz was a bit stronger and more refined. But Van Pran has excellent natural leverage at 6’4″, 310 pounds, and he’s one of the most explosive athletes you’ll see at the center spot. He moves at a different pace off the line, and he brings a finishing brand of physicality through reps.

Who Is the Best iOL in the 2024 NFL Draft?

It’s been some time since we’ve had a blue-chip guard prospect in the NFL Draft. The 2024 NFL Draft cycle might not have that caliber of player, but there is a guard in college football who can reasonably be projected into the first-round range. He has the pedigree, and so far, he has the tape to back it up.

1) Donovan Jackson, G, Ohio State

Ohio State has PFN’s preliminary top prospect at three positions — running back, wide receiver, and offensive guard. The Buckeyes have become a pipeline for NFL talent across the board, and Donovan Jackson follows up Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, and Luke Wypler as the next OL prospect destined to make a professional imprint.

Jackson was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and it’s easy to see his natural talent. At 6’4″, 320 pounds, he reportedly has arms nearly 36″ long. That’s an absurd combination of leverage and proportional length, and Jackson also has the lateral mobility and combative hand usage to gather rushers as they work across-face.

Jackson might not have quantifiably elite athleticism like Johnson, and he might not have elite flexibility, either. But in a phone booth, his build can be devastating for opposing rushers. He plays low and consistently keeps linemen from getting inside his frame.

Honorable Mentions

  • Kingsley Eguakun, C, Florida
  • Andrew Raym, G, Oklahoma
  • Clark Barrington, G, Baylor
  • Michael Jurgens, C, Wake Forest
  • Drake Nugent, C, Michigan
  • Mike Novitsky, C, Kansas
  • Landon Tengwall, G, Penn State
  • Micah Mazzccua, G, Florida
  • Joshua Gray, G, Oregon State

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