There are a lot of theories surrounding the Patriots' decision not to pursue DeAndre Hopkins more aggressively than they had, especially since they lost him to a team like the Titans.
Most theories suggest Bill Belichick didn't want to pay the salary required to sign a player with Hopkins' skillset and star power, which is entirely possible because he is known for clenching his wallet in these situations. But there may be a surprising reason for the hesitancy to go all in on the five-time Pro Bowler.
What possibly could that reason be, you ask?
The potential resurrection of Kendrick Bourne in the Patriots offense.
While discussing the internal reaction to Hopkins signing with Tennessee on an episode of "Pats Interference" last week, The Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan revealed the collective disappointment among Patriots staffers.
It's interesting to hear that even those inside the organization feel the same way as most fans do, especially since they know more than anyone how cheap Belichick can be.
But then Callahan's co-host, Doug Kyed, chimed in and put a whole new twist on the story, mentioning the optimism surrounding Bourne's place on the offense as a potential reason for not offering more money to Hopkins.
"From what I was hearing, there was a good possibility that Bourne was probably going to be on his way out if Hopkins was on the way in. So there is still optimism about Kendrick Bourne. I think the team is excited to keep working with him. "- Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald
If his potential for a comeback season provided some hesitancy for Belichick to go all in on Hopkins, it proves what type of player they think Bourne is and can be. Because who wouldn't go all-in on a game-changing receiver like Hopkins when your offense has needed a receiver like him for years at this point?
Considering all the drama surrounding him and the endless questioning of Belichick for the receiver not being utilized in the offense enough last year, it's fascinating to hear they haven't been deterred from giving him another chance.
Bourne's explosive nature on the field was immediately seen when he joined the team. Although his usage last season was far less than just a year before, his value remained apparent, and he consistently provided the offense a much-needed boost to get them back in the game.
He did that throughout the 2021 season, even sitting behind Jakobi Meyers, and he wasn't the only member of the offense who took a turn for the worse when being coached by Patricia last year.
Now that the most problematic coach is gone from the team and a new offensive coordinator is steering the ship, Bourne and others have already shown a much more positive attitude this offseason.
And apparently, that's not the only noticeable change. The work he has been putting in this offseason has not gone unnoticed either, according to ESPN's Patriots' reporter Mike Reiss.
"Seven-year veteran receiver Kendrick Bourne was critical of himself for his 2022 performance (35 catches, 434 yards, 1 TD) after a productive 2021 season with the Patriots (55 catches, 800 yards, 5 TDs). His hard work this offseason has made an impression, with one member of the team relaying he had a “great spring.”"- Mike Reiss of ESPN
After all the drama surrounding Bourne last season, he must have an impressive training camp. But it's a great sign that in the months leading up to the start of camp, he's already standing out for his work during the offseason.
Hopefully, he can live up to the expectations Belichick believes he is capable of, which may be higher than usual if he involved Bourne in the decision to stand back on Hopkins.
Other than the training he's done to get back on track, he has made it clear that a repeat of last season will not happen, and his dedication to improving over the last few months proves that even more.
As the longest-tenured receiver on the team, Bourne could easily become the breakout star again this upcoming season, ultimately proving Belichick right in believing he had a talented enough receiving corps without Hopkins.