DeAndre Hopkins' Visit With Titans Exciting, But He'd Bring Much Risk If SIgned

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have done good work to get DeAndre Hopkins to Nashville for his first free-agent visit. NFL Network reported it’ll be Sunday, Mike Vrabel stumblingly said it’ll be early next week/ late this week.

It’s a win for Tennessee to get easily the best receiver on the market here, but it’s way early for cartwheels and parades.

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Kyler Murray (not pictured) as Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) defends during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
DeAndre Hopkins/ © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

National reports say the market is clearly down for the three-time First-Team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler. He’d be the best receiver on the team if it signed him provided he was healthy, on the field and in synch with Ryan Tannehill.

But he’d hardly arrive danger free. [Unlocked]

It’d be great that Hopkins would only cost the Titans money, and not draft picks the way Julio Jones did, and it would be great that much of that money would hit the Titans in 2024 and beyond when they hardly have the cap concerns they do with now. 

The Titans have $8.6 million in 2023 cap space per NFLPA records, and they still need to sign Will Levis. A simple restructure for someone like Harold Landry could create sufficient additional room.

But like the last veteran receiver the Titans brought in who was going to elevate the group, Julio Jones, Hopkins would arrive aging and slowing down.

Hopkins just turned 31 and missed the first six games of the season for a PED suspension and the final two games with a knee injury. Jones was 32 when he got to Nashville in 2021 and had missed seven games with injuries in Atlanta the previous year.

“He misses a bunch of practice,” a personnel man with another team told me. “He is talented. But he needs a perfect fit.”

Maybe the Titans qualify as a perfect fit based on Hopkins’ relationships with Vrabel, who he was with in Houston from 2014-2017, and Tim Kelly, who he was with in Houston for six years, including 2019 as offensive coordinator.

In that year Hopkins caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns.

Vrabel generally does not like players who do not practice, and he can’t have sweetened on the idea after the Jones experience. But desperate times may call on him to swallow that, given that after Treylon Burks the team’s best receiving options are Chris Moore, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips.

He would not discuss that element of Hopkins’ potential presence when I got to the question Wednesday after minicamp practice.

The Titans inherited a $15.3 million 2021 base salary for Jones and converted $14 million of it to a signing bonus in order to spread that into the future. 

Hopkins could be seeking more than the $15 million Odell Beckham Jr. got from Baltimore but the market seems to have already told him he will come in under that. My personnel man thinks Hopkins is worth $5-7 million plus incentives.

Jones was not the only recent-post draft savior who turned into a giant disappointment.

Kuharsky megaphoneJadeveon Clowney got $13 million with $11.5 million guaranteed in 2020, made little visible impact before landing on IR after half a season.

The Titans have put themselves in dire need of Hopkins with their failures to address receiver in other ways. If they are able to lure him they will be hoping to turn to tide on their recent history of big, late additions.

They will also need him to break a long string of late-career receivers to come to Nashville -- from Carl Pickens to Eric Moulds to Randy Moss to Andre Johnson to Jones -- and do nothing.

Land Hopkins, get him in position to practice and produce and change some storylines -- including the one about what this team is capable of this season.

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