Some news and notes for this morning:
Hopkins Coming to New England
While former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has a stop planned this weekend out in Nashville with the Titans, it appears he’s still interested in exploring his options.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Hopkins is set to visit with the Patriots next week, which could certainly make things interesting heading into training camp if a deal does potentially come to fruition.
Most people remember the clip from last season’s “Hard Knocks In Season: Arizona Cardinals” where Bill Belichick and Hopkins met on the field before their meeting last year and there was definitely mutual respect shown.
Belichick told Hopkins, “I’m glad we only have to play you every four years, man.” The veteran wideout then responded with, “I love you, man.”
Adding a player like Hopkins would certainly change the dynamic of New England’s offense. His addition would provide an explosive target for Mac Jones, which would round out an already fairly talented receiving corps.
He remains a pretty explosive player. Despite only appearing in 9 games last season, he still managed to finish with 64 receptions for 717 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The 31-year-old receiver finished with a team-high 7 receptions on 11 targets for 79-yards against New England last season during the Patriots 27-13 victory in Arizona, but Hopkins did have a fumble deep in the Cardinals’ own end, which Raekwon McMillan picked up and ran back 23-yards for a touchdown.
That play was a big one for the Patriots, as it broke a 13-13 tie late in the third quarter and helped propel New England to the victory.
Now it’s possible Hopkins might instead be lining up for them, provided the two sides can potentially reach an agreement.
Belichick Hasn’t Been Very Lucky
The only catch here may be how well it works out for both parties should Hopkins end up in a Patriots uniform. The last time Belichick finally got one of his favorite receivers on his roster, it didn’t turn out quite like he probably hoped.
Many likely remember a similar pregame meeting between former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson (Ochocinco), where the veteran also had a good relationship with Belichick.
The two met ahead of a meeting in 2009, with the two clearly having plenty of mutual respect for each other and it ended up foreshadowing their coming together right at the end of the receiver’s career in 2011.
The Patriots traded two late-round picks to the Bengals back in July of 2011 to acquire him, seemingly giving Tom Brady a little extra firepower ahead of that season.
However, he struggled after joining the team and ended up with a disappointing year. He finished with just 32 receptions for 276 yards and one touchdown over 15 games, which was a massive dropoff where he previously averaged 100 receptions for five-straight seasons before signing in New England.
He dealt with uncharacteristic drops and difficulty understanding the playbook, and it led to some tense moments with Brady. It was even more disappointing as his problems played a role in spoiling what could have potentially been a championship season after they came up just short against the Giants in the Super Bowl at the end of that 2011 campaign.
Had Johnson been at the top of his game, it’s hard not to wonder if that might have tipped the scale in New England’s favor after another late loss to Eli Manning’s football team.
It’s been well over a decade since the last time, but should Hopkins end up as a Patriot, let’s just hope he fares a little better.
Kraft Optimistic For 2023
Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke on Thursday with his thoughts on the upcoming season, and he’s seemingly pleased with what he’s seen so far.
After seeing the AFC East evolve the past few seasons, Kraft said that the Patriots have their work cut out for them, but he’s confident with the progress they’ve made ahead of this season.
“Excited to have football back,” Kraft said via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I liked our draft this year, and I hope that translates on the field. I know the guys are working very hard. I think we have the most difficult division in the NFL.
“All the other three teams are good, so we’ll have our challenges. But I’m really hopeful about this team.”
Kraft spoke earlier this offseason and emphasized the importance of seeing his team get back into the postseason mix. Clearly, that work toward that goal is already underway, and given what’s transpired so far, he seems to like their chances.
Jack Jones Fires Back on Suspension
After being suspended late last season, there have been various reports about the reasons behind then-rookie defensive back, Jack Jones missing time.
Various reports have mentioned that Jones’ suspension stemmed from the rehabilitation of his injury, with the former Arizona State standout reportedly both being late to and missing rehab sessions.
SI’s Albert Breer also previously reported that Jones “talked back to Belichick” about it, which he brought up again during an appearance this past Sunday on NBC Sports Boston’s “Sports Sunday.”
Apparently, Jones caught wind of it and fired back at Breer on Twitter.
“I never mouthed off at Bill idk where y’all getting that from…,” Tweeted Jones. He also later added, “@AlbertBreer please don’t write false stories. how you portray the players to the media could help or hurt our career im not asking you not to do your job but DONT LIE @AlbertBreer”
The best way for Jones to quiet his critics is to have a productive year and hopefully put that mess behind him. Despite his issues, he still finished tied with Devin McCourty for the team lead in interceptions last season, which also included a pick-six against Aaron Rodgers and has been working with the first-team defense again this offseason as he looks to build on that success.
As for Belichick, he’s mentioned multiple times that it’s in the past, and the two are focused on the upcoming season.
The Patriots are set to hold their final organized team activities today, and will then turn the page and start minicamp next week.
Posted Under: Patriots News