One league source saw DeAndre Hopkins’ release from the Arizona Cardinals on Friday and texted this to the Daily News:
But more conversations have expanded the list: various sources believe the Bills, Giants, Jets, Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders are teams who could be in the mix for the three-time All-Pro wide receiver.
Hopkins, 30, has worked out with Saquon Barkley this offseason, and he no longer is carrying the albatross contract that made any hypothetical trade a non-starter prior to the draft.
Imagine if Giants GM Joe Schoen landed Hopkins on top of signing Barkley to an extension by mid-July: Not only would the offense look more dangerous than it’s been in a decade-plus; that would officially make the Giants a destination, which they have not been in a very long time.
Hopkins did make clear recently that Buffalo piques his interest.
“I would have to say one of my favorite quarterbacks I’ve been watching since he came in the league is Josh Allen,” Hopkins said on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “He reminds me of a new-school Andrew Luck. I love Josh Allen.”
He also said he’d heard about Cardinals trade conversations with the Patriots and Bills earlier this offseason, when the team was trying to get something back for him.
Hopkins had been asked on the podcast to list the top five quarterbacks he’d love throwing him the ball. Allen and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts were the two that were on the tip of his tongue.
“Jalen Hurts. Man, Houston kid, he’s a dawg,” said Hopkins, a former Texans first-round pick and star who still lives in Houston.
He then said the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and, after pondering a bit, “my dude at San Diego,” the Chargers’ Justin Herbert.
But Hopkins later said that he doesn’t need “a great QB … just a QB who loves the game like I do.” The Giants’ Daniel Jones, an above-average QB with a great work ethic who the team believes can take the next step, certainly qualifies there.
“Great management, a QB who loves the game and a great defense,” Hopkins said of his top three needs in free agency.
“What I want is stable management upstairs,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career. … I’ve been through three or four GMs in my career.
“Stable management. A QB who loves the game and brings everybody onboard with him and pushes not just himself but people around him,” Hopkins continued. “I don’t need a great QB. I’ve done it with subpar QBs. Just a QB who loves the game like I do. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships. That’s the key.”
A top returning defense plus Aaron Rodgers makes the Jets attractive. Bill Belichick running the Patriots’ defense certainly doesn’t hurt. As for the Raiders? Well, one thing they have is no state income tax, and they’re close to Hopkins’ temporary Arizona home.
When Hopkins was asked if he liked the Dallas Cowboys’ colors, he laughed and said: “No state tax is my favorite.” That would apply to franchises in Washington, Nevada, Florida or Texas.
Granted, Hopkins has only played in 19 total games the past two years. He had more receiving yards in 2020 (1,407) than he had in the past two years combined (1,289).
Some sources also believe Hopkins might still be expensive as a free agent, and that could continue to rule out some suitors who would otherwise jump at the opportunity to get him.
But he’s a supreme talent who will add star power and production in the appropriate role for any team that lands him. It will be fascinating to see where he ends up.
COULD BRADY UNRETIRE AGAIN?
Let’s connect the dots here: Tom Brady has agreed with Raiders owner Mark Davis to become a minority stakeholder/owner in the team.
Brady, 45, nearly played for Las Vegas in 2020. UFC president Dana White said he nearly recruited Brady and Rob Gronkowski until Jon Gruden blew up the deal in the 11th hour. Now the team is coached by Brady’s longtime Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.
Then we learn that starting Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo had foot surgery after he signed as a free agent this offseason and likely won’t practice until training camp, at least. The QBs behind Jimmy G on the depth chart are Brian Hoyer and fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell (Purdue).
NFL owners passed a rule this week to allow teams to make a third emergency QB from its 53-player active/inactive list eligible to be activated during games if the two active QBs get hurt.
Brady has unretired once already. And in April, he did not answer “no” when asked in Miami if there was a chance he’d come out of retirement and play for the Dolphins. Brady also noted “I’m not affiliated with any team anymore.” But now he is affiliated — with the Raiders.
NFL rules require a vote of all 32 teams to allow anyone to play in the league while holding a financial interest in a club, according to ESPN. So a Brady attempt at a second comeback in Sin City may stop right there.
But think about it: would the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers automatically vote against Brady playing football because he’d make the Raiders a more formidable AFC West threat? Maybe.
And yet, have we seen owners unanimously approve something simply because it will make the league more money? Absolutely.
No one is predicting a Brady comeback. It’s possible he doesn’t want to play for McDaniels again anyway. But with all of those dots connecting, would it really surprise you if Brady tried it?
PATRIOTS DOCKED TWO OTAs
The NFL stripped the Patriots of two OTA practices and fined Belichick $50,000 this week for a rules violation reported in a players’ union formal complaint. The violation was due to scheduling that resulted in players spending more than their allotted time (four hours daily) at the team facility, sources confirmed. Can’t have players doing too much in May, now. Have to rest them up for their 17-game schedule and flexed Thursday night games in December.
THEY SAID IT
“My thing is, where does it stop? You don’t want to take too many pieces away or you’re going to be playing flag football.” — Chiefs coach Andy Reid in response to the new kickoff rule that brings all fair catches behind the 25-yard line out to the 25
Source: Berkshire mont