It has been quite the rumor-filled offseason for the Patriots thus far, with an emphasis on speculation regarding receivers believed to be exactly what the offense needs.
One of the names that continue to be a dominant part of that conversation is Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins.
The rumblings of a potential trade for the receiver began as early as last season when the Patriots played the Cardinals in week 14. Video of Bill Belichick's interaction with Hopkins went viral online as the two expressed their admiration and respect for one another before kickoff.
Once the offseason began, it was reported that Arizona was interested in trading their leading receiver and was open to conversations to get a deal done. But after several teams allegedly inquired about a trade, it was reported the Cardinals' asking price was not one that teams were willing to pay for, including the Patriots.
As the draft approached, Hopkins was said to be atop the list of draft-day trades, but inevitably that did not happen, either.
And now we're in May, with little likelihood of more trades set to happen. However, it's still in the realm of possibilities, especially with most teams set to begin their offseason training activities as early as this week.
To keep the rumors going, Hopkins appeared on the I Am Athlete podcast on Monday and was asked about the rumors swirling about his future.
Brandon Marshall asked about the teams that allegedly contacted the Cardinals about getting a trade done, including the Patriots. Hopkins confirmed New England was one of them while revealing another AFC East team that made the call.
"I’ve heard a lot of rumors and of people calling. I would definitely say the Patriots were one of the teams. Obviously, I would say the Bills are one of those teams I heard. I didn’t have direct conversations … just seeing what’s on Twitter, what’s on Instagram. Those are the only two teams I’ve paid attention to where I was like, ‘let me see if social media is right.'"
If given a choice, the receiver also went into detail about his top three aspects of what he'd like in his new team: stable management, a quarterback who loves football as he does, and a great defense because good defenses win championships.
It sounds like the Patriots a bit, don't you think?
"A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but people around him. I don’t need a great QB; I’ve done it with subpar QBs. Just a QB who loves the game like I do."
New England may not be his most ideal landing spot, primarily due to their chances of winning a championship any time soon. But if Hopkins is really interested in a well-coached team with a top-ranked defense and a quarterback on the rise under a new offensive coordinator, then the Patriots shouldn't be ruled out.
But it all comes back to if the Cardinals are still willing to part with their biggest offensive playmaker, which appeared not to be the case at the draft last month when new GM Monti Ossenfort was asked about trading Hopkins, and if they are what that price may be.
Clearly, they weren't going to get a first-rounder or even a high second like they were allegedly asking for. But a good deal could still come their way, and Belichick may be willing to part with at least a third-round pick in next year's draft for a receiver he greatly admires.
I mean, who could forget his long, detailed response when asked about Hopkins before their matchup last season?
"He’s got tremendous ball skills. He catches everything. Has great hands. He’s long, so he’s never covered, even if he’s covered, there’s a place where the ball can be that he can get it and 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 a strong kid in terms of creating separation on routes, yards after contact, tough yards like around the goal line, or that extra yard for a first down type of thing. He’s a smart football player. Very savvy. I’d say his ball skills are at the very elite level of guys that I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are. The Cris Carters of the world. Guys like that. I think he’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against."
What happens with Hopkins is yet to be seen. It's unlikely the Cardinals will make a move before June 1st, as releasing or trading him would only open up just over $8.1 million in cap space and hit them with over $22 million in dead cap.
However, that changes after the first, when trading or releasing him, would create over $19.45 million in cap space and split the $22 million in dead cap over the next two seasons.
Regardless of Hopkins' actual interest in signing with the Patriots, Belichick should kick the tires once again now that the draft is over. New England appears to be in a better position offensively than last year, even just one month ago, but if they're looking to add a true WR1, Hopkins is still the perfect option at the right price.