One of the most discussed possibilities during the NFL offseason was the possibility of WR DeAndre Hopkins having a reunion with QB Deshaun Watson. The Cleveland Browns had a level of interest in Hopkins but never at the contract level that other teams were willing to give him.
Through six games with the Tennessee Titans, Hopkins has 27 receptions (on 47 targets) for 376 yards and zero touchdowns. The Titans have struggled on offense al year with mediocre quarterback play and mostly poor play from the offensive line.
Despite being questionable for the game against the Browns, Hopkins led Tennessee with three receptions for 48 yards.
With the NFL trade deadline around the corner, Hopkins could be back on the market as the Titans need to rebuild.
According to Diana Russini, Cleveland is on the lookout for help at receiver (and offensive line) as long as they are affordable:
They’ve been scanning the market looking for some affordable options.I’m told they are looking to possibly add a receiver and an offensive lineman.
While Tennessee signed Hopkins to a big deal, there is zero guaranteed after this season and a majority of his contract was given as a signing bonus. Any team acquiring Hopkins at the trade deadline would not be taking on much in salary cap and, likely, wouldn’t cost a ton in draft assets.
Putting two and two together, does Hopkins being traded to the Browns make sense?
A few DBN staffers are split on the decision with Donovan Peoples-Jones' role a key component (and potentially a part of the team also being sellers according to Russini):
It’s probably worth it to trade for Hopkins. It’ll most likely just be a 1-year rental though, unless he takes a huge discount on an extension. I don’t know what to think about DPJ this season. Part of me thinks that Cleveland is intentionally trying to drive his value down this year in order to sign him to a cheaper extension because they’re going to have to extend somebody in the WR room soon. I’m not sure how they’re going to handle Amari Cooper’s contract going forward.
Roll with what you have. Realize that situations change but if Browns wanted him Andrew Berry would have likely pulled it off before the season. You already have Cooper, traded for Elijah Moore (which got everyone fired up) and supposedly have an elite TE in David Njoku. Use what you have, figure out what is going on with DPJ and why he is not being targeted, and pray the QB can put together some consistent play and Browns should be OK.
Part of the reason that Berry might be interested in adding Hopkins is the different ways he can win for the team. Cooper, DPJ and Marquise Goodwin can be vertical threats but Hopkins can be the physical threat over the middle, on back shoulder throws and high-pointing the ball on fades. The fact that he won’t cost much against the cap or in trade means it makes far more sense now than signing him this offseason.
I would say trading for DeAndre Hopkins isn’t worth it at this point. Focus on your current strengths as a team: the defense is playing well, and offensively, the ultimate key is just getting Deshaun Watson back to who he was. Donovan Peoples-Jones is solid; his production will come at some point.