Former teammates Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins will once again be on the field together in 2023. They will not, however, be teammates once again.
The Cleveland Browns had an interest in reuniting Hopkins with Watson when the wide receiver became a free agent but acquiring Elijah Moore, Marquise Goodwin and Cedric Tillman, the latter in the NFL draft, made that unlikely.
Hopkins visited with the Tennessee Titans and then the New England Patriots during his free agency. Neither seemed like a fit for his desire to win right away but both could offer him good money. With training camps around the corner, Hopkins-related rumors grew quiet over the last two weeks.
Sunday, news broke that the Titans would be Hopkins' next team:
Free-agent WR DeAndre Hopkins is expected to sign with the Titans, per source. Deal is expected to become official over the next few days.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) July 16, 2023
In Tennessee, Hopkins will be the top receiving target for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has seen the Titans draft Malik Willis and Will Levis on day two of back-to-back drafts as potential replacements for the veteran signal-caller. Hopkins’ arrival could make things easier for Tannehill as a bridge to one of the younger guys and take some workload off of RB Derrick Henry.
Residing in the AFC South, Tennessee has one of the easier paths to the playoffs in the AFC but is not considered a championship-level contender. As we shared in the past, another variable likely played a role for Hopkins:
The #Titans are giving star WR DeAndre Hopkins a 2-year, $26M deal worth up to $32M with incentives, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 16, 2023
He gets a base of $12M in Year 1 with a chance to get to $15M. https://t.co/4Vsy2sF1zG
The Browns were never going to be willing or able to pay Hopkins that type of contract. Very few teams in the NFL were, perhaps only the Titans and Patriots.
Now, Cleveland gets to prepare to face Hopkins instead of trying to install him into their offense. The Browns and Titans face off in Week 3 of the NFL season. When we reviewed Tennessee’s offseason changes, the team looked like they had fallen off once again this year.
With the Titans, Hopkins will attempt to avoid a fate that has befallen Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Julio Jones, aging receivers who failed in Nashville.
Do you think Hopkins changes the hopes for the Titans? Would he have made a bigger impact in Cleveland?