DeAndre Hopkins' release opens the door for the Patriots to make a big offer

New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Patriots' interest in DeAndre Hopkins is well known at this point, and their reported interest in acquiring him this offseason has been well documented.

Now they may have their best chance to make that happen.

The Cardinals had given mixed signals regarding Hopkins' future in Arizona. At first, he was reportedly on the trade block, with the team listening to offers from teams around the league. But when new GM Monti Ossenfort was discussing the situation, he shot down the idea of moving on from Hopkins, thus forcing any team that had made the call about the receiver back off from any further conversation.

But that changed on Friday afternoon when it was announced Hopkins was being released, with the Cardinals taking on the $22.6 million dead cap for the 2023 season.

Although that doesn't seem like a good situation for the Cardinals to be in, they are now off the hook in paying him over $19 million this season since Hopkins had already earned all of his guaranteed money.

With his pre-June 1st release, teams can speak to him immediately about signing him. Since the Patriots were actively pursuing him earlier this offseason, it is being reported that they will likely be one of the more aggressive teams to sign him.

But what are the chances that actually happens?

Hopkins has made it clear that he wants to play for a contender while stating that doesn't mean it has to be one of the top-ranked quarterbacks. When appearing on the I Am Athlete podcast earlier this week, he described what he would be looking for in the next quarterback he plays with, and based on what he said, that very well could be Mac Jones.

"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."

The Patriots may not exactly be the front-running team on their way to a Super Bowl victory, but he didn't mention that when talking about where he wants to go. But if what Hopkins said is accurate, much of what he described is what Jones is known for. He emphasized wanting a team with stable management and a great defense, both of which apply to the Patriots.

Plus, the added familiarity with Bill O'Brien from their shared days in Houston and the mutual respect between him and Bill Belichick could become a significant factor in signing with New England.

Not to mention, the Patriots have the most cap space of the top two teams that are seemingly favored for Hopkins to sign with, the Chiefs and the Bills. But the Ravens have also joined the conversation due to Hopkins' admiration for Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr. signing there earlier this year.

The biggest question now is what does Hopkins want more; a chance at a Super Bowl win or a big-time contract?

Depending on what his answer to that question would be is likely what will determine the chances of him winding up in a Patriots uniform next season. The Patriots could certainly use a player like him to put their offense over the top, but we'll have to wait and see what happens over the next several days. Hopefully, Belichick at least makes the call.