Will the Browns reunite Deshaun Watson with receiver DeAndre Hopkins? The former Houston Texan is a free agent after being released by the Arizona Cardinals.
Will the Browns add receiver DeAndre Hopkins?
You must have an active subscription to read this story.
Click Here to subscribe Now!
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Andrew Berry’s fourth player transaction season had three objectives:
1. Rebuild the defensive line to new coordinator Jim Schwartz’s satisfaction.
2. Add special teams core players to new coordinator Bubba Ventrone’s satisfaction.
3. Give Deshaun Watson whatever he wanted.
OK, that last one is a slight exaggeration.
It makes sense for the Browns to build the offense around their $230 million quarterback, of course. And Berry sought to do that this spring by trading for receiver Elijah Moore, by signing receiver Marquise Goodwin and former Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins in free agency, and by selecting receiver Cedric Tillman with the Browns’ first draft pick in the third round.
Watson needed more speed and experience at the receiver position. Moore and Goodwin check that box.
Watson needed another veteran target at tight end. Akins checks that box.
Watson needed a physical receiver who might eventually grow into the No. 1 role. Tillman checks that box.
So what box does DeAndre Hopkins check?
The former teammate of Watson in Houston was released by the tanking Arizona Cardinals last week, after trade efforts failed, and is free to sign with any team. Naturally, Browns fans want to add Hopkins to the receivers room. So does Watson.
But we ask again: what box does Hopkins check?
Do the Browns need a soon-to-be 31-year-old receiver who has averaged 53 receptions for 644 yards and five touchdowns the past two seasons? Do they need a receiver with those modest numbers and advanced age who is seeking upwards of $20 million a year in a new deal?
Or do they need another ex-teammate of Watson to please their quarterback and provide him another security blanket?
Don’t get me wrong, Hopkins has had a tremendous career. In seven seasons in Houston – including the four seasons preceding Watson’s arrival there in the 2017 draft – Hopkins averaged 90 receptions for 1,228 yards and about eight touchdowns.
Once Watson joined the Texans, he and Hopkins averaged 107 receptions for 1,380 yards and nine touchdowns. In that stretch, Hopkins established himself as one of the best ball-catchers in the NFL. He finished third and fourth in voting for AP offensive player-of-the-year and was first team All-Pro twice.
But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.
Yes, Hopkins would rank with Amari Cooper as the Browns’ best two receivers. His body of work is impressive. But what does he add other than a proven chemistry with Watson? Great hands, for sure. Experience, yes. But NFL history has shown that receivers beyond the age of 30 are more of a liability than an asset.
Adding Hopkins would signal two things:
1. The Browns are sparing no expense to give coach Kevin Stefanski every weapon possible to turn this offense into a top 10, or higher, scoring machine.
2. What Watson wants, Watson gets.