Report: Hopkins to ink with Titans

Published 10:56 pm Sunday, July 16, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans hope they’ve filled their major need at wide receiver with three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth $26 million with incentives that could push that to $32 million, a person familiar with the agreement said Sunday.

The Titans had the advantage of being the first NFL team Hopkins visited after being released by Arizona in May. Hopkins arrived in Nashville in June and documented on social media his visit to CMA Fest’s final night at Nissan Stadium, where the Titans play. Hopkins also visited the New England Patriots later that week.

The deal was first reported by AtoZSports. The person confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Hopkins has not signed the contract.

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Hopkins, who turned 31 on June 6, would bring much-needed experience to Tennessee’s young wide receiving group. Head coach Mike Vrabel had more career touchdown catches with 12 in his own NFL career as a linebacker than anyone currently on the Titans’ roster.

The three-time All-Pro would have led Tennessee last season with his 64 catches for 717 yards for Arizona despite a six-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He also missed the final two games with a knee injury.

Arizona released the five-time Pro Bowl receiver in a salary cap move May 26 after failing to find a trade partner in the offseason.

The Cardinals cut Hopkins three seasons after acquiring him in a blockbuster trade with Houston in 2020, and they had signed him to a $54.5 million extension through 2024. Hopkins would have counted close to $31 million against the cap for Arizona, which still took on a dead cap hit of $22.6 million.

Hopkins ranks 36th in NFL history with 11,298 yards receiving in his 10 seasons over 145 games. He immediately became a popular free agent, with his former Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson making a pitch for the receiver to join him in Cleveland.

Both Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly worked in Houston during Hopkins’ tenure with the Texans. Vrabel was busy Sunday playing in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Nevada with Pat McAfee.

“I did know the news. I’m the head coach. I actually knew the news yesterday …,” Vrabel told McAfee. “The whole nine I didn’t want to give it to you. … Looks like it happened.”

Hopkins shared a photo of him with Titans running back Derrick Henry on social media on Sunday. Hopkins followed up later Sunday night on social media defending his choice of Tennessee as a free agent.

“I always loved having haters and doubters but I appreciate it even more now. Titan up!!” Hopkins wrote.

He would join a receivers’ room currently led by Treylon Burks, the 18th pick overall in the 2022 draft. Burks was the player taken with the selection acquired when Tennessee traded A.J. Brown to Philadelphia. The general manager that made that move was fired Dec. 6.

New general manager Ran Carthon used one draft pick in April on a receiver, taking Colton Dowell in the seventh round. He also signed veteran Chris Moore, whose 548 yards receiving would have led the Titans last season. Their returning receivers combined for 69 catches for 962 yards and four touchdowns.

The Titans also have veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who turns 35 in July, and three-time Pro Bowl running back Henry — both going into the final seasons on their current contracts.

The last time Tennessee added a 31-year-old wide receiver with 10 years of NFL experience didn’t work out so well. It traded for Julio Jones in June 2021 and cut him after one season. A hamstring issue limited Jones to the worst season of his career, with 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown.