New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals after a game at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 29, 2020. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

DeAndre Hopkins’ visit with the New England Patriots has come and gone, and now we wait, which means we’re reduced to loose news and rumors for about six weeks.

But it should be an interesting time for New England fans, because the Pats are clearly going to be heavily involved in such rumors. By all accounts, Hopkins’ visit with the Patriots went well. According to multiple reports, he’s now going to take some time before making his decision.

Through all the reports and rumor-mongering, however, there’s only one thing between Hopkins and the Patriots that matters: how did it go with Bill Belichick?

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  • Based on our own observations at Patriots OTAs and minicamp over the past few weeks, it’s clear that offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is essentially the head coach of the offense and the main man for quarterback Mac Jones. Belichick has been more heavily involved with the defense and special teams. Frankly, it’s probably for the best that it’s set up that way.

    But that doesn’t mean Belichick no longer has the final say on the offense, especially on personnel decisions. There’s no way O’Brien and Matt Groh operate autonomously, or would be able to sign Hopkins without Belichick’s involvement. So it’s important that Belichick and Hopkins seemingly had a productive meeting of their own.

    According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, who spoke about this on NBC Sports Boston on Friday night, Hopkins and Belichick met as part of his visit, just the two of them. They ostensibly met to go over what they each wanted from the other side and what it would take to forge a partnership.

  • “[Hopkins] got quite a bit of 1-on-1 time with Bill Belichick, which I think is significant, because the fit’s the biggest question, here,” Breer said. “And to me, this is gonna be a matter of the two sides being comfortable with where the other was and selling each other on one another.

    “I’ve been told the last couple days that this deal was going to have to happen on Bill’s terms. Does sitting down with DeAndre Hopkins make Bill’s terms more flexible? Does Bill feel better about it? Do his terms change to get closer to what DeAndre Hopkins’ terms are? That’s what I think is so interesting about the fact that the two sat down together.”

    Breer added that he believes Hopkins is seeking a deal in the range of $8-10 million, with incentives that could get him closer to the $19M he was scheduled to make with the Arizona Cardinals in 2023. He also laid out the reasons why Hopkins hasn’t seemed like the best fit for the Patriots and Belichick.

  • Mainly, the issues are that he doesn’t practice much compared to other players, and that he would command a lot of targets in an offense that typically wants to spread the ball around and formulate unique game plans week-to-week.

    Is Belichick willing to compromise on that? It wouldn’t be totally unprecedented in recent years. Tom Brady didn’t practice every single day in his final years here, and several veterans were absent from voluntary OTAs. If it means Belichick can land a three-time All-Pro at a position that could use high-end talent, he’d probably put up with the occasional day off.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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