DeAndre Hopkins Joins Titans On Two-Year Deal
The former Arizona Cardinals wideout is headed to the AFC South, after linking up with the Titans after visiting Tennessee earlier this offseason. The five-time All-Pro, Pro Bowl receiver inked a two-year deal worth $26 million, as DeAndre Hopkins finally landed with a team.
On DeAndre Hopkins’ 2-year, $26M deal with the #Titans, there are $3M available in incentives each year. If he reaches 95 catches, 1,050 yards and 10 TDs, he gets all of it. Here is the full breakdown: https://t.co/WzOTxVEyxB pic.twitter.com/6mnmqCwMhG
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 16, 2023
According to NFL Media NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, the contract can be worth up to $32 million due to incentives, as it is expected to be finalized this week. Here is the breakdown above of what the incentives look like, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
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Last month, the Titans had Nuk Hopkins in town for a visit, even hosting him in a suite at Nissan Stadium for CMA Fest on June 11. D-Hop also visited New England and met with the Patriots before ultimately choosing Tennessee.
The 31-year-old was cut by the Cardinals after Arizona couldn’t find a trade partner to take on his contract back in May during and post-NFL Draft. In September 2020, Hopkins signed a two-year, $54.5 million extension to stay in Arizona, but with the Cardinals shifting management and coaches, it was clear Nuk’s time with the Cardinals was up but the decision of simply cutting him was surprising.
In May 2022, D-Hop was suspended for six games due to a PED violation. Despite that, the vet pass-catcher averaged 7.1 catches per game (fourth in NFL) and 79.7 receiving yards per game (10th in NFL) despite playing in just nine games on a 4-13 Cardinals team.
Former head coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired after the season Arizona had last year and former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon took over as the head coach. New general manager Monti Ossenfort took over for Steve Keim back in January as the new GM of the Cardinals.
The change in management was most likely a part of the decision of what to do with Nuk, along with whether or not he wanted to stay on a team that will have Kyler Murray out for a few weeks to start the season. Despite him aiming for a return in week one after suffering a torn ACL in December of last year, the star quarterback will likely be fully healthy around week four or five, since he had his surgery to repair it in January. D-Hop also didn’t leave Arizona on good terms, as he sat out the last two games despite being healthy enough to play on a losing team.
The Titans are getting a star pass-catcher a rookie like Will Levis or Malik Willis or veteran Ryan Tannehill could trust, but this isn’t the first time Tennessee had a big-name receiver. The year before, Julio Jones was shipped off from the Atlanta Falcons back in 2021, and the 34-year-old disappointed in Tennessee, dealing with more injuries till the Titans cut ties after the first year of the trade.
Due to injuries (hamstring and torn MCL) and the suspension, Hopkins has missed 15 out of 34 possible regular-season games over the past two years. Still, Nuk has the eighth-most receiving yards through a player’s first ten seasons in NFL history (11,298), and the fourth-most receptions (853).
The Titans, even if he is older and more prone to injury, are getting an alpha pass catcher in D-Hop. Their wide-receiving core is debatably the worst or near the bottom of the league, with second-year pass catchers Treylon Burks and Kyle Phillips, along with veterans Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and free agent signing Chris Moore. Last season, Tennessee didn’t have a prominent wide receiver after trading superstar A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles back in April 2022 and didn’t do anything to replace any of his production besides drafting Burks in the first round.
With just running back Derrick Henry toting the rock and carrying the offense, Tennessee’s scoring offense fell from No. 15 in the NFL to No. 28 last year. Last year, the Titans had what was statistically the third-worst offense in the league (296.8 yards of total offense per game), and the third-worst passing offense (171.4 passing yards per game) but hope with the addition of Hopkins, that changes for 2023.
Hopkins stated when he was a free agent that he was looking for three things when picking his new team and apparently with the Titans, it fits all his requirements. Despite not having an alpha wide receiver, Tennessee won seven games and was second in the AFC South, behind the nine-win Jacksonville Jaguars who made the playoffs.
Here’s what DeAndre Hopkins said he was looking for in his next NFL team:
– Stable management.
– A QB who loves the game.
– A great defense because defense wins championships.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) July 16, 2023
Nuk does have familiarity with the head coach of the Titans, Mike Vrabel, as he was the defensive assistant for the Houston Texans when D-Hop was there for four seasons.
“I had a lot of interaction with him,” Hopkins told the Titans’ official website about Vrabel back in 2018. “He’s one of those guys you could talk to off the field, not just about football, but personal stuff. Vrabel was good to me. It wasn’t just a football relationship with him, it was a personal relationship. Guys could relate to him.”
Hopkins had high praise for Vrabel, as the NFL touchdown receiving leader back in 2017 mentioned this about his coach’s character:
“He’s a great guy. He’s not just a good coach, but he’s a good guy. He can relate to his players. The Titans are lucky to have him.”
Hopkins also worked with new Titans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, who served as a Texans offensive assistant for eight years, including three seasons as offensive coordinator. With Kelly as OC for one year, Hopkins caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns during that season.
The Tennessee Titans are looking to be in the playoff mix again for the AFC, and adding Nuk certainly helps, even if the quarterback and offensive line positions are still question marks heading into the new season.
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