Patriots trading for DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly a ‘long shot,’ but there might be other options

Hopkins's prior history with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien would reportedly make it a "major surprise" if New England traded for him.

Don't expect DeAndre Hopkins to wear a Patriots jersey, but there might other trade options available for New England at receiver. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When it was reported in January that the Cardinals could be looking to trade DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, many Patriots fans seemed to get their hopes high that their team might land the All-Pro receiver.

They might want to be cautious with their optimism, though. It would be a “long shot” for the Patriots to land Hopkins in a trade this offseason due to his relationship with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported Friday. Hopkins played under O’Brien for six seasons when the latter was the head coach of the Texans until the receiver was traded in 2020 as he fell out of favor with O’Brien, according to Howe.

Of course, things could change and relationships can be repaired as Howe noted that Bill Belichick has spoken highly of Hopkins in the past, but Howe still wrote that it would be a “major surprise” if such a trade were to happen.


Belichick and Hopkins have both exchanged compliments in the past. In the leadup to the Patriots-Cardinals Week 14 matchup, the Patriots coach remarked on Hopkins’s “tremendous ball skills.”

“He’s never covered — even if he’s covered, there’s a place the ball can be that he can get it, 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 strong creating separation, yards after contact, extra yards around the goal line or the extra yard for a first down. He’s a smart football player, very savvy. His ball skills are at the very elite level with guys I’ve seen in this league.

“He’s up there with whoever the top guys are. Cris Carters of the world and guys like that. He’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.”

Hopkins appreciated those compliments, saying it was “very meaningful.”

“A guy like Belichick, he’s one of the most respected people in the NFL, he’s a Hall of Fame coach, and for him to have that high praise about me, it’s definitely mutual. I love playing against him. After every game I try to make sure I say, ‘Hey, what’s up’ to him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him for sure.”


Of course, Belichick and Hopkins shared an embrace in pregame during the Week 14 matchup as well.

But if Belichick embracing Hopkins in New England is unlikely, there should still be some other veteran wide receiver targets available via trade.

Brandin Cooks doesn’t wish to be a part of the continuing rebuild in Houston and showed frustration when he wasn’t traded from the Texans during the 2022 season. Cooks could be an intriguing target considering he played in New England for a season in 2017, recording 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns with Tom Brady at quarterback. He had 57 receptions for 699 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Following Brady’s retirement, there has been speculation of the Buccaneers trading some of their top players as they’ll be well north of the salary cap entering the offseason. If that’s the case, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin could be two guys to look out for.

Evans, who’ll turn 30 in August, has consistently been one of the league’s top receivers since entering the league in 2014, posting at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his nine seasons to go along with 81 career touchdowns. Godwin, who turns 27 in February, racked up the receptions over the past two seasons as Tampa struggled to run the ball, posting 98 receptions in 14 games in 2021 and 104 receptions in 15 games last season.


The only issue with trading for Evans or Godwin is that it would be most beneficial for the Buccaneers to do after June 1. Tampa would save $14.5 million against the cap if it traded Evans after that date as opposed to saving just $2.3 million if it traded him prior to that day. For Godwin, Tampa would save $8.8 million if it traded him prior to June 1 though it would also have $15 million in dead cap. If it waited to trade Godwin until after June 1, Tampa would save $20 million.

There might also be a pair of younger options too for the Patriots. The Broncos reportedly shopped Jerry Jeudy ahead of the trade deadline as they looked to recuperate some of the draft capital they lost in the Russell Wilson trade. Denver ultimately held on to Jeudy after trading Bradley Chubb to Miami for a first-round pick, but it lost that pick it got for Chubb when it traded to New Orleans earlier this week in order to make Sean Payton the head coach. The Broncos also traded a second-round pick in 2024 to get Payton and with Jeudy eligible for an extension this offseason, he could be the Broncos’ best hope at getting some draft picks back if they decided to trade him.

Jeudy, a 2020 first-round pick, struggled for much of his first two-plus seasons in the NFL as he dealt with an ankle injury in 2021 and inconsistent quarterback play. But he turned a corner in the final month of the season, recording 37 receptions for 523 yards and three touchdowns over the final six games to finish the season with 67 receptions, 972 receiving yards, and six receiving touchdowns. Jeudy was also a teammate of Mac Jones at Alabama, catching a pair of touchdowns from the Patriots quarterback over a handful of games in 2019.


Bengals receiver Tee Higgins might also be another player to keep an eye out for. The 24-year-old is entering the final season of his rookie contract, making extension eligible. If both sides are far apart in extension talks, the Bengals “could go the route taken by multiple teams in recent seasons” and trade Higgins for a pair of high-round draft picks, The Athletic’s Bengals Paul Dehner Jr. speculated Friday.

Higgins is the kind of dynamic receiver the Patriots haven’t had in years as the 6-foot-4 wideout has 74 receptions in each of the last two seasons, recording 1,029 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns in 2022. Dehner mentioned the A.J. Brown trade from last offseason as a potential trade package should things go south between Higgins and the Bengals in extension talks. The Eagles traded a first-round pick (No. 18 overall) and a third-round pick (No. 101 overall) to the Titans as Brown was entering the final year of his rookie deal. Obviously, the Bengals could let the 2023 season play out before making a decision on Higgins and could franchise tag him in 2024 if it comes to that, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility he could get traded this offseason.


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