FOXBOROUGH — Free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will visit with the Patriots next week, a league source confirmed Friday.
Before heading to New England, Hopkins will visit with the Tennessee Titans, coach Mike Vrabel confirmed this week. No other teams are currently scheduled to meet with the 31-year-old Hopkins.
Hopkins would immediately elevate New England’s wide receiver room, which has lacked a traditional No. 1 option in recent years. He would join JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, and rookie Kayshon Boutte.
“I’m a fan of D-Hop,” Bourne said Friday. “I don’t really know the gist of what’s going on, but he’s a great player.”
Signing Hopkins would give the Patriots a crisp route-runner known for his expansive catch radius and exceptional hands. At 6 feet 1 inch and 212 pounds, Hopkins boasts a 6-7 wingspan and 10-inch hands.
“He catches everything,” Patriots safety Adrian Phillips said. “His whole highlight reel is one-handed stuff. He’s a physical guy, and he’s able to turn it on at any moment.”
Coach Bill Belichick would not comment on a potential pursuit of Hopkins but has spoken glowingly of him in the past.
“He’s got tremendous ball skills,” Belichick said ahead of the Patriots-Cardinals game last December. “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. He has great coordination on the sidelines.
“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 and yards after contact, you know, tough yards like around the goal line or that extra yard for a first-down type of thing.
“He’s a very smart football player, very savvy. But his ball skills are at the very elite level with guys that I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are, the Cris Carters of the world and guys like that. He’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.”
Hopkins has a level of familiarity with Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who served as his head coach for six seasons in Houston. Although their relationship soured — and their time together ended with a widely panned trade that sent Hopkins to Arizona — the two found great success on the field.
While playing for O’Brien, Hopkins led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017, eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in five seasons, and missed only two games. He earned multiple All-Pro honors and Pro Bowl nods.
Hopkins’s first season in Arizona also featured a high level of production: 115 catches for 1,407 yards and three touchdowns. But his availability has become more of a question mark. Hopkins missed seven games in 2021 because of a knee injury and was suspended six games in 2022 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
The Cardinals tried to trade Hopkins this offseason, but ultimately released him in May.
The Patriots have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space and could create additional room by parting ways with one of their veteran receivers.
If the Patriots trade or cut Parker, they would open $6.21 million with no dead money. If they trade or cut Bourne, they would open $5.46 million with $1.42 million in dead money. Both players are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
The one-year contract Odell Beckham Jr. recently signed with the Ravens ($15 million guaranteed and $3 million in incentives) could serve as a framework for a Hopkins deal. But his market is still developing, with just two visits scheduled thus far.
Speaking on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast about his next move, Hopkins said he is seeking a team with “great management, a quarterback who loves the game, and a great defense.”