Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he had a list of teams he wanted to play for after the Arizona Cardinals released him earlier this summer. But before he signed with the Titans, Hopkins said some of those teams "didn't give a call back" when he first reached out.
While he didn't go into details as to which teams didn't return his calls, Hopkins named which teams certainly didn't want to sign him this offseason.
Hopkins landed on the Titans as the team's No. 1 wide receiver with a reported two-year, $26 million deal worth up to $32 million, which he said he was "very grateful for" and said he believes is "the best decision." But he added that being denied by other clubs despite his 10-year career irked him a bit.
"When you’re a player and some people feel like they’re great without you, and then you see what they have on paper, or you see what they do, you mark those games down, as a competitor," Hopkins said. "I can't wait to play 'em and, honestly, try my best to crush they ass.”
Hopkins is the second-most productive active receiver in the NFL. He finished the 2022 season with the Arizona Cardinals with 717 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 64 receptions despite missing the first six games with a suspension and the final two games with a knee injury. The Cardinals released him this offseason three years after the team traded a second-round pick, a fourth-round pick and running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans for Hopkins and a fourth-round pick.
Hopkins doesn't think his age will be a concern
The biggest question marks around Hopkins are his age and durability. He turned 31 in June and has missed eight games due to injury over the past two years. In 2021, Hopkins missed three games with a hamstring ailment, then tore his MCL and missed the final four games of that season. He also was suspended six games in 2022 for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.
But Hopkins doesn't agree with detractors when it comes to his body. He added that a team's top defensive back would still have a hard time covering him on an island.
"It ain’t too many people out there that can say honestly that they can lock me down, guard me for a full four quarters," Hopkins said. “This is probably the best shape I've been in physically since I've been playing, since I came into the NFL from college."
Tennessee's roster remains older than most at key positions, especially with Hopkins in tow. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is 35 and on the final year of his deal, while running back Derrick Henry will be 30 by the end of the season and is also on the final year of his contract.
The Titans need more of the Hopkins who made four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2017-22 and averaged 1,514 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns a season rather than the one who saw major dips in production and durability over the past two seasons. Tennessee has also struck out on veteran pass catchers recently after a lone season from Julio Jones (the only active wideout ahead of Hopkins in production) in 2021 and Robert Woods in 2022.
Hopkins could be different than those past failures. Either way, the Titans will find out in the coming weeks.