Why NFL insider considers a DeAndre Hopkins trade to Patriots a 'long shot' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots need to upgrade at wide receiver before the 2023 NFL season.
They did not have a wideout tally more than 70 receptions or 850 yards in 2022, and their best player at the position, Jakobi Meyers, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
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There are a few ways the Patriots could bolster their talent and depth at wide receiver. One avenue is the 2023 NFL Draft, where the Pats own the No. 14 overall pick in the first round. Another is the trade market, and one star wide receiver who reportedly could get dealt is DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals.
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Hopkins and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have plenty of respect for each other, but according to NFL insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic, that kind of move should be considered a long shot.
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"Never say never, but it would be viewed as a pretty major surprise if the Patriots traded for Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins," Howe wrote Friday. "Coach Bill Belichick has a strong affinity for Hopkins, something that was on display when the teams met in Week 14 on 'Monday Night Football,' which has led to speculation the Patriots could target Hopkins in a trade this offseason. However, Hopkins fell out of favor with new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien before O’Brien traded him out of Houston in 2020. A possible reunion? Maybe, but consider it a long shot."
Hopkins' talent speaks for itself. Even at age 30, he's still one of the most productive wide receivers in the league. But if he doesn't have a great relationship with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, would it really be a smart move to acquire him? He'd also be an expensive addition for a Patriots team that needs to focus on improving several areas of the roster, not just wide receiver.
The free agent market for wide receivers is pretty weak. In fact, when ESPN unveiled its top 50 UFAs ranking earlier this week, only three wideouts -- Meyers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and DJ Chark -- made the list.
So if the Patriots want to make a substantial upgrade at wide receiver before next season, the draft and the trade market are probably their two-best options.