DeAndre Hopkins

Latest reports on DeAndre Hopkins' market are encouraging for Patriots

The Patriots remain interested, and the Panthers reportedly are the mix, too.

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The wait for DeAndre Hopkins to make his decision continues, but a few interesting reports have surfaced in the last couple days.

One came from Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, who wrote Monday that the Cleveland Browns haven't dipped their toe into the Hopkins sweepstakes yet and "and probably won’t, barring some sort of material change." Breer cites the "comfort level" the Browns have with their current receiving corps as one explanation for the team's lack of huge interest in Hopkins.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio was asked during an ESPN Radio appearance Tuesday morning if Hopkins is going to end up with the New England Patriots -- one of the two teams, along with the Tennessee Titans, that he's visited so far.

"I believe so. There's mutual interest," Paolantonio said. "Bill likes him -- Bill Belichick likes DeAndre Hopkins, likes his game. And DeAndre Hopkins likes the situation in New England, knows Bill O'Brien. It's a perfect fit at a time when they need a wide receiver who can get separation. They need somebody like that.

"But you have to remember, I'm talking to Keyshawn Johnson here and he knows it: When you go to New England, you're going to the Navy Seals. You're going to a different kind of culture. DeAndre Hopkins has to understand that when he goes there, he's going to have to fit in. They're going to make sure he fits in, but he's going to have to fit in there with what they do.

"Carolina's lurking. Cleveland is lurking for sure. But if I'm DeAndre Hopkins, do I want to go to Carolina with a rookie (quarterback)? Do I want to go to Cleveland? Or do I want to go to New England, where I can be coached by Bill Belichick?"

The Carolina Panthers haven't been mentioned much as a potential landing spot for Hopkins. Former Alabama star and No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young figures to be the starting quarterback in Week 1, and the Panthers could definitely use a significant upgrade at wide receiver. DJ Chark and Adam Thielen are atop the Panthers' wideout depth chart right now. Even though the NFC South is wide open, the Panthers are unlikely to contend for a playoff spot next season, so if Hopkins wants to be on a competitive team, Carolina would be a bad fit.

The Browns are an interesting one, assuming they're interested in Hopkins. He played with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson when the two were in Houston together. The Browns are a trendy pick to be in contention for a wild card playoff spot in the AFC, but the chances of them reaching the playoffs still aren't great.

The Patriots represent the best opportunity for Hopkins among the teams that reportedly have interest in him. Mac Jones is a good quarterback. Bill O'Brien is a respected offensive coordinator with a proven track record of success. Belichick's resume speaks for itself. The Patriots have around $15 million in salary cap space and can pay Hopkins more than a lot of teams.

Of course, if a top contender such as the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills got involved, maybe that changes the equation. But right now, the Patriots can offer Hopkins a pretty good blend of money, a large role, good coaching, a good quarterback and a chance to make the playoffs.

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