Nearly one week into the start of free agency, the Patriots are yet to make a big splash in the wide receiver pool other than signing JuJu Smith-Schuster. Although he will undoubtedly bolster the offense next season, the chatter regarding New England’s interest in a few top-quality pass-catchers is becoming too much to bare for many fans and media members.
There have been several conflicting reports over the last week regarding the Patriots’ interest in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr., growing the impatience amongst the onlookers. But the latest report alleges the Patriots’ current plan to acquire one of them, and it may become one of the better moves of the offseason if a deal comes to fruition.
The latest update on a potential DeAndre Hopkins to New England trade
Bill Belichick has made it known how much he respects Hopkins’ talent and has reportedly called Arizona about getting a deal done for the five-time Pro Bowler. The Cardinals’ initial asking price was said to be a second-rounder, but after Brandin Cooks’ trade to the Cowboys on Sunday, that price may now be too high.
Most fans have shouted their willingness for Belichick to give up the 46th overall pick in this year’s draft for Hopkins, citing his incredible skillset that would seamlessly blend with the Patriots’ offense. And although many agree with that sentiment, NFL executive Mike Lombardi said that acquiring Hopkins may not be that simple.
During a recent episode of his “GM Shuffle” podcast, Lombardi revealed that not many teams have called about the receiver, citing his contract as an issue, among other things he could not specify.
"“I think his market is really soft. I don’t think anybody wants to get into the Hopkins business, and then have to redo his contract.From what I’m told, it’s soft. There’s not a lot of action out there on him. He’s a good player, he’s always covered, but he always comes up with the football. But there are other things that go into this, that I’m not at liberty to discuss that’s probably holding it all back.”"
Considering Belichick’s history of not dishing out the big bucks for players, paying Hopkins a base salary of $19.45 million in 2023 and $14.9 million in 2024 seems implausible. However, given the structure of his contract, Hopkins has already earned all of his guaranteed money, a major plus for the Patriots in their quest to land him.
The latest update on Odell Beckham Jr. signing with New England
One of the biggest hurdles separating the Patriots and OBJ is almost certainly the price tag.
On Sunday, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that the receiver is seeking $20 million a season with a new team. Although Beckham Jr. has refuted that claim via Twitter, it’s possible if his demands are anywhere near that price, then the Patriots are likely DOA in their talks.
Something that could work in his favor, though, is how much Belichick has pursued OBJ in the past. So if he is still determined to have him on the Patriots, now is the time to make the move, especially as he appears intent on dramatically improving the offense from last season.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal provided insight into the behind-the-scenes happenings in Foxboro, suggesting the Patriots are playing the waiting game for both receivers.
"“The compensation should be a rude awakening for the Cardinals in regard to DeAndre Hopkins. They will be getting much less than the 2nd and another pick they were looking for. It’s good news for the Patriots, who are waiting out the market on Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. from what I’m told. Dallas is now out on both.”"
The Cooks trade was a definite swing in the Patriots’ favor, and maybe waiting a bit longer could put them in good position as well. But as is with most top-name talent in the league, waiting too long may lose them the chance to acquire either receiver.