New England Patriots

New England Patriots

DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is full of catchphrases.

It always makes for a compelling press conference, if not an informative one. It can be frustrating for reporters and writers, especially if all they need is a little quote to plug into a column. But Belichick plays by his own rules when it comes to the press, and we generally just accept it.

So it was surprising and refreshing that Belichick, ever so subtly, broke one of his biggest rules when asked about DeAndre Hopkins.

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  • Typically, when asked about a player who isn’t officially on the Patriots roster, Belichick goes with some variation of the common refrain, “I’m only going to talk about players who are here.” Or the inverse: “I’m not talking about anyone who isn’t on our team.”

    Belichick has literally said that already in his off-season press conferences, but on Monday, he showed why you should still ask the question. Because when asked about Hopkins, he wouldn’t confirm reports that he’s visiting with the Pats this week, but he DID acknowledge that the team has had conversations with the free-agent All-Pro wide receiver’s camp.

    “I don’t know about [the reports],” Belichick said. “We talked to him, we’re working through it. I’m not sure.”

    Belichick admitting he talked to someone who isn’t on the team? Color me shocked.

  • DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals looks on from the sidelines against the Green Bay Packers at State Farm Stadium. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

    DeAndre Hopkins (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • Hopkins is flying into Foxboro Wednesday night then visiting with the Patriots on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. He’s already visited with the Tennessee Titans and left without a contract and, according to multiple reports, is expected to schedule more visits.

    Belichick wasn’t the only one to give a surprising level of honesty on the Hopkins situation. Quarterback Mac Jones also acknowledged Hopkins’ existence, but still did his best to keep the conversation to the players who are already on the team.

    “I think that’s definitely a hypothetical, but I think DeAndre’s a great player,” Jones said Monday. “I mean, you watch his film from college all the way through the NFL, he’s done a great job. Obviously we’d love to have him, but we do have a great group of guys. We just know that we want to win, and I know all the guys feel the same way. But, I’ve been really pleased with the playmakers that we have on our team.

  • Quarterback Mac Jones of the New England Patriots practices during 2023 mandatory minicamp in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Quarterback Mac Jones of the New England Patriots practices during 2023 mandatory minicamp in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

  • “We’ve come out here and really bought into the system. That will really show in training camp and the preseason. It’s sometimes hard to show that out here, but I’ve been really pleased with the tight ends, running backs, and all the receivers, young guys, the old guys, like DP [DeVante Parker] and everybody. So, we’ve got a good group, and I feel we just need to grow together, and whoever’s in that room, we’re going to try and dominate together.”

    Speaking of Parker, he wasn’t a fan of a line of questioning he got from reporters about Hopkins after practice on Tuesday. And why should he? Hopkins seems like he’d be a clear threat to Parker’s job as a starting “X” outside receiver.

    Asked about Hopkins, Parker repeatedly said “Focused on us,” meaning the current Patriots group. Asked if the current group could use some help, Parker said “Focused on us. Next question.”

    New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker with the ball after making a catch at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    DeVante Parker (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Matthew Judon was similarly tight-lipped on the Hopkins questions, and that’s saying something for someone as jovial and open as Judon typically is with the media. So, it’s possible the days of acknowledging the existence of Hopkins on this planet are over in Foxboro.

    But if they end up signing Hopkins, that would certainly make for a much more interesting summer at 1 Patriot Place. Just don’t expect them to say much about it.

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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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