Why the New England Patriots need DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins runs out against Stephon Gilmore in a game between the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
DeAndre Hopkins runs out against Stephon Gilmore in a game between the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. / Billie Weiss/GettyImages

It's no secret that the New England Patriots have some gaping holes to fill on their roster, most notably in their wide receiver corps. While they did sign JuJu Smith-Schuster in an effort to effectively shore up the hole left by Jakobi Meyers when he left for the Las Vegas Raiders, the Patriots are still missing that number one receiver - especially one that can go deep - threat in the receiving corps.

When looking at what's left for free agents, there isn't much left at any position really as they were all swallowed up pretty early in the offseason - especially wide receivers. Following that frenzy, the Arizona Cardinals dangled around DeAndre Hopkins name as trade bait for other teams.

But when no other team was ready to bite, or give up any of the assets that the Cardinals were looking for in return for Hopkins, they decided they would just bite the bullet, and decided to release him after just three seasons .

While he is just sitting in free agency, Hopkins is making his rounds to different teams to see where he feels he would fit in best. After visiting the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday, he is slated to visit with the Patriots later this week.

While "Nuk" has had his fair share of issues off the field such as being suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season for using performance enhancing drugs. To add to that, he has never really played for a consistently winning team, although he has played like it in the past.

Despite all of that, however, he has garnered plenty of respect within the Patriots organization both from head coach Bill Belichick, fellow wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, and linebacker Matthew Judon.

If New England were to sign Hopkins, that would put them at seven receivers on the depth chart to start the preseason, and five if the two drafted (Kayshon Boutte, 6th round and Demariou Douglas, 6th round) were relegated to the practice squad.

Right now, as it stands their receivers are DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Tyquan Thornton before you add in Boutte and Douglas, and any undrafted free agent wide receivers Belichick has signed.

Given how crowded the wide receiver room is already for the Patriots, how does this help New England out short term and long term?

First things first, it would give quarterback Mac Jones a chance to work with real, legitimate offensive weapons for the first time in his career. Not to mention, he does also have also have a real, legitimate, offensive coordinator for the first time since Josh McDaniels as well in Bill O'Brien.

In fact, you could argue that O'Brien is better than McDaniels.

Given real offensive weapons for the first time in his career, the Patriots brass would get to see exactly who Jones is as a quarterback. In 2023, he is projected to throw over 29 touchdown passes, and throw for over 3,500 yards - keep in mind, these are without Hopkins numbers.

With Hopkins in the fold as a deep threat for the former first-round pick out of the University of Alabama could easily eclipse those numbers, if not easily pass them. On the flip side, if he comes out flat, and has a poor showing, New England can put their faith in second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe, and see what HE can do with an improved offense.

The biggest benefit to signing Hopkins is to really see what Jones can do with talent surrounding him. The Patriots are going to have to make a decision soon of whether or not to extend him past his rookie contract or move on.

Signing Hopkins is an essential way for New England to determine their future - both immediate and longterm. With O'Brien running the offense, they may have granted themselves a win or two more than before, but if the Patriots were to sign Hopkins, they may be able to take one, two, or maybe even three more.