NY Jets must aggressively pursue DeAndre Hopkins in free agency
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have mostly steered clear of DeAndre Hopkins rumors this offseason. For months, the three-time All-Pro wide receiver has been the center of trade talks, but the Jets were never really seen as a likely landing spot.
Perhaps part of that was due to the team's tricky cap situation and the money they would have been forced to take on if they traded for Hopkins. That's understandable, but now that Hopkins is officially a free agent, the Jets have no excuses.
The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots remain the two teams most often connected to Hopkins rumors. The Baltimore Ravens could be in the mix, although their additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers might take them out of the running.
The Jets don't necessarily need Hopkins. It would be far from a travesty if they were unable to land him. That said, that doesn't mean they should be aggressive in their attempt to sign him.
Why the NY Jets must make a serious attempt to sign DeAndre Hopkins
Contrary to what many have suggested, Hopkins is still one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. In just nine games last season, Hopkins finished with 64 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns. That's a pace of roughly 120 catches and 1,350 yards in a full season.
Of course, Hopkins has missed considerable time over the last two seasons due to injury and suspension. The 30-year-old wideout was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season after violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
It's fair to be concerned about Hopkins' availability, but it should also be noted that he's only missed significant time due to injury once in his 10-year NFL career — that coming in 2021. Prior to that, he had missed just two games in his previous eight seasons.
It's unclear exactly what Hopkins will command on the open market, but we can probably assume it will be somewhere around what Beckham received from the Ravens. That's a price the Jets should be willing to pay.
This is also a price the Jets can afford. Beckham may be due $15 million this season, but his cap hit is under $4 million. There are ways the Jets can mitigate Hopkins' 2023 cap. In fact, there's a way they can sign Hopkins and save money in the process.
Corey Davis is due over $11 million this season, and the Jets can save $10.5 million by cutting him. It's hard to imagine that Hopkins' cap hit in 2023 will be higher than that, no matter what team he signs with.
The Jets can financially afford Hopkins, and I've personally been banging the table for the team to add another true offensive difference-maker this offseason.
Garrett Wilson is a star. Breece Hall can be a star if healthy. The rest of the Jets' skill position group is...fine. It's nothing special. Right now, the Jets probably have an average (if not slightly above average) skill position group.
Hopkins would give the Jets one of the best offensive supporting casts in the NFL. A wide receiver room consisting of Wilson, Hopkins, Allen Lazard, and Mecole Hardman would be a strong contender for one of the better position groups in football.
If the Jets are set on making a legitimate Super Bowl push this season, these are the moves you need to make. Super Bowl-caliber teams have star players up and down their roster. They don't settle for good enough when a golden opportunity to upgrade is right in front of them.
Of course, there's no guarantee Hopkins is dying to play for the Jets. By all accounts, he seems very interested in teams like the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Jets can't control what Hopkins wants, but they can control their own actions. There's no excuse for the team not to make a serious push to sign Hopkins now that he's a free agent.
DeAndre Hopkins would complete a star-studded offseason for the Jets and make the team a serious threat in the AFC. No excuses — swing for the fences.