Potential frontrunner emerges for DeAndre Hopkins

The Arizona Cardinals have released star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and one team is reportedly “more likely to pursue him” now that he’s no longer under contract.

Throughout this NFL offseason, fans and media alike asked themselves, “Where are the Arizona Cardinals going to trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins?”

The answer to that question? Nowhere, as the Cardinals made the gigantic move to release Hopkins from his contract, allowing him to sign with whichever team he so chooses. Hopkins’ contract was a deterrent in trade talks, which teams were unwilling to take on, and the Cardinals were unable to get the asking price they were looking for.

So, is there going to be a frontrunner now that Hopkins is a free agent?

According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the New England Patriots “are more likely to pursue him now that the contract isn’t as much of a hurdle” with Hopkins. Howe notes that “financial competition is a factor” but that the Patriots should have a “level of interest.”

Patriots reportedly ‘more likely to pursue’ DeAndre Hopkins after release

The Patriots would be an interesting fit for Hopkins. While they did watch Jakobi Meyers leave in free agency for a three-year, $33 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders to reunite with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, they did bring in former Kansas City Chiefs wideout and Super Bowl 57 champion JuJu Smith-Schuster on a three-year, $25.5 million deal. But, bringing in more help shouldn’t be out of the question, since the AFC East only got tougher with quarterback Aaron Rodgers joining the New York Jets.

But there are going to be fans bringing up the point that the current offensive coordinator for the Patriots is Bill O’Brien, Hopkins’ former Houston Texans head coach. While their relationship in Houston was rocky and ultimately lead to his trade to the Cardinals. Can time heal all wounds?

Hopkins shined in his first season with the Cardinals, catching 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns on 150 targets through 16 games. But in 2021 and 2022, Hopkins was limited to just 19 games due to injuries, and a six-game performance-enhancing drug policy violation. In nine games this past season, Hopkins recorded 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns on 96 targets.

With Hopkins now being a free agent, will the Patriots be more aggressive to ensure they give third-year quarterback Mac Jones a top-downfield option? We’ll have to wait and see. But now, Hopkins has his choice as to where he wants to play in 2023 and possibly beyond.

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