DeAndre Hopkins

Ex-NFL QB criticizes Pats for ‘massive missed opportunity' with Hopkins

ESPN's Dan Orlovsky didn't mince words in his analysis.

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DeAndre Hopkins choosing to sign with the Tennessee Titans over the New England Patriots felt like a surprise to a lot of people.

The Patriots needed Hopkins given their lack of high-end talent at wide receiver, and he already has familiarity with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien from their Houston Texans days. New England also had loads of salary cap space and the ability to pay Hopkins more than most other teams.

And yet Hopkins wound up in Tennessee on a two-year contract that was more lucrative than what the Patriots reportedly offered him.

The group of free agent wide receivers is pretty weak with Hopkins off the board, so if the Patriots want to add one more veteran to the mix, there aren't many great options.

How much of a mistake did the Patriots make by not closing the deal with Hopkins? Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky didn't mince words in his analysis.

“It feels like a massive missed opportunity and loss for the Patriots and Mac Jones going into a huge year,” Orlovsky said Sunday on Twitter. “No. 1 being because just look at the division -- they are worst in the division when it comes to overall skill talent by far, and bottom three or bottom four in the conference. Now you’re going to expect your offense to have enough firepower to compete against the Jets, the Dolphins and the Bills and basically everybody in the AFC, and you don’t. And you also expect your quarterback to take a big step and he’s got not nearly the amount of weapons that other quarterbacks have.”

Orlovsky also explained how failing to sign Hopkins will put even more responsibility on tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki to be reliable targets for Jones.

“The second thing I think of is there is tremendous pressure now on Bill O’Brien, their play-caller, who’s awesome, but also Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki,” Orlvosky said. “It makes me think that New England will major, not minor, major in 12 personnel -- one back, two tight ends -- and absolutely live in that because they don’t have the people on the outside wide receiver-wise to really contend firepower-wise scoring points with everyone they have to.

"... If those two tight ends play together and they become one of the top two or three duos in the conference, they've got a shot with a great defense. But it's a lot of pressure on those two units."

The Patriots should be better offensively in 2023 solely with O'Brien leading the charge. He is a massive upgrade over Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. But modest improvement probably won't be enough for the Patriots to secure a wild card playoff berth in the AFC next season. The conference is absolutely loaded with high-powered offenses, and the Patriots will play against many of them as part of their grueling regular season schedule.

Significant offensive improvement is needed for the Patriots to be a contender again, and it's hard to see how that happens with their current group of players at the skill positions. They don't have anywhere near the kind of high-end talent on offense as many of their top competitors in the division or conference.

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