Who would be on the chopping block if the Patriots sign DeAndre Hopkins?

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) takes the field before they take on the New
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) takes the field before they take on the New / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

When news broke on Friday morning that recently released receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be visiting the Patriots next week, speculation began regarding who would be cut to make room for him if Bill Belichick was able to sign him.

Of course, this reaction is jumping the gun a bit since Hopkins is also set to visit the Titans, and who knows if he will even like what he sees and hears from the Patriots.

But because addressing the wide receivers this offseason was seemingly ignored, other than bringing in JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency and double-dipping late in the draft, fans' hopes are already assuming the best-case scenario.

So if Hopkins did choose to sign with New England, moves would need to be made not only to create the cap space needed for his contract, but the roster would also need to see some changes too. Because they currently have ten receivers signed, one or more would likely need to be cut for Hopkins to join.

But who would make the most sense to be cut?

Obviously, not all currently signed players will make the final 53-man roster, so that could help a bit as well. And Matthew Slater does count as a WR on the roster, despite only playing on special teams.

Outside of the rookies, the general assumption has been that DeVante Parker would be the primary candidate to be cut.

The Patriots traded for Parker before the 2022 season in hopes he could boost an unintimidating receiving corps. Although he didn't necessarily bring all that they were looking for, he did total 31 receptions for 539 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, averaging 17.4 yards per catch.

On top of that, he had several impressive catches throughout the year and became Mac Jones' go-to guy for a 50/50 ball, an aspect of Parker's game that he is known for.

So why would the Patriots move on from Parker so soon?

Well, if they decide that Hopkins would be the WR1, which he inevitably would be, cutting Parker would create $6,206,250 in cap space, and they would not take on any dead cap. Since they currently sit with over $13 million, adding that money would create plenty of room to pay Hopkins this season and leave them with some left to sign the remaining rookies.

Additionally, in terms of how Parker and Hopkins play, their games are quite similar. They're both physical at the position and thrive with their contested catch abilities, which their teams have taken advantage of over the years. And some would argue they're not great at creating separation on the field, making it even more problematic to have both on the team at the same time.

Could it work? Yes. But would it make the most sense? Not necessarily.

Another candidate that has been discussed has been Kendrick Bourne.

After a disappointing 2022 season from the receiver and alleged attitude issues that kept him sidelined, some feel the Patriots could easily move on from him in exchange for Hopkins.

Like Parker's contract, Bourne's release would create $5,455,872 in cap space, but it would also add $1,416,667 in dead cap.

In the big scheme of things, it's not that much. But knowing the type of contributor Bourne can be on the team based on his 2021 performance should keep him safe on the roster. Plus, despite spending most of last season off the field, he was an instant game-changer when he was put into the game. Moving on from a potentially great weapon for Jones could come back to haunt Belichick.

Regardless of who it is, if Hopkins becomes a Patriot, it certainly won't be an easy decision. And given New England's offensive issues in recent seasons, it's difficult to consider moving on from any potential contributor that could help move the ball down the field.

But it may all be worth it if they are lucky enough to sign a guy like Hopkins.