Sunday, September 24 2023

DeAndre Hopkins would instantly be the best receiver on the New York Giants, and the competition wouldn’t really be close. He’d be the most accomplished, electric, and explosive receiver they’ve had since Odell Beckham was still in New York. He’d instantly upgrade a passing attack that’s been mostly dormant for years.

So of course the Giants gave some thought to Hopkins when he officially became a free agent on Tuesday. And of course they did their “due diligence” as Giants coach Brian Daboll said they would on Wednesday morning.

But are they really going to get in on the bidding for a soon-to-be 31-year-old receiver who might be looking for as much as $20 million per year?

Probably not, even though Daboll said “anytime there’s someone that’s available as a free agent, I’d say Joe (Schoen, the Giants general manager) and his staff are going to look into it and research it.” According to one team source, they aren’t expected to do much more than that.

[Patriots, Chiefs, Bills among teams that could sign DeAndre Hopkins after his release

But should they be a bit more aggressive for a receiver they so obviously need?

Here’s a look at why Hopkins would be a good fit for the Giants, who might need receiving help more than any other NFL team … and why he wouldn’t be a fit for them as they stick to their long-term plan:


Why Hopkins would be a fit for the Giants

All it takes to see why is one look at their current roster. The Giants’ receiving corps is basically a group of Nos. 2 and 3 receivers who hope that one of them proves to be a No. 1 by default. And an overwhelming majority of them are still working their way back from injuries. The entire group they’ve got surrounding their newly minted $160 million quarterback is little more than one giant “if.”

Add Hopkins to the mix and its instant offense with an elite receiver like they haven’t had since Beckham was traded away four years ago. Hopkins averaged 103 catches, 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns a season from 2015-2020. They could even use the lesser version of Hopkins who caught 106 passes for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns over his last 19 games during the last two years.

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They don’t have anyone that can come close to that. Maybe Darren Waller, if he stays healthy, but that’s a big if after two injury-plagued seasons. Plus, he’s a tight end. The Giants still need a No. 1 receiver. And while they have high hopes for Jalin Hyatt, their third-round pick, it’s a stretch to think he could have Hopkins-like potential, at least at first. Darius Slayton has had four seasons in which he’s barely put up half of Hopkins numbers. As for everyone else — Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard — the Giants just have their fingers crossed that they can make it through training camp unscathed.

Hopkins, for the most part, has been durable. At his best, he’s a top-5 receiver in the league. He would be the greatest gift they could give Daniel Jones outside of the contract extension they just gave him. Assuming everything else goes right — the offensive line improving, Saquon Barkley staying healthy — Hopkins would vault the Giants’ offense close to the top 10 and make them an instant and obvious playoff contender.

It has to be worth stretching their financial limits and tinkering with the salary cap for that, right?

Why Hopkins would NOT be a fit for the Giants

Forget his obvious talent and how much better he is than every other receiver on the Giants’ roster. The unfortunate truth is that players like that don’t come in a vacuum. There’s a good reason he’s available, why the Arizona Cardinals released him, and why nobody was willing to trade for what was left on his contract.

It’s because Hopkins is about to turn 31, has played just 19 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and a suspension, has developed a reputation as a bit of a troublemaker, and is reportedly looking to be paid like an elite receiver, which probably means about $20 million per year.

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Never mind that the Giants can’t afford that — they have just $4.1 million under the salary cap according to NFLPA records. There are ways of finding cap room for something they really want or need.

But as good as Hopkins is, as much as he could do for their offense, the reality is the Giants aren’t just one player away from suddenly making a Super Bowl run. Don’t be fooled by their 9-7-1 record last season or their playoff win in Minnesota. They still are a team filled with a ton of issues and holes. They are still building an offensive line and a secondary. They’re going to need cap room in the future for that and maybe their running back, too.

If Hopkins was going to make them a championship contender, then sure, they should mortgage the future to make a run. But he won’t, so why not see if some of what they did invest in receiver pays off. They think they got a steal in Hyatt. They thought the same about their second-rounder from a year ago, Robinson, who is working his way back from his knee injury. They have high hopes for Campbell, whom they signed as a free agent. They just gave Slayton $12 million, too.

That group may not inspire a lot of confidence, but the Giants invested in them so they need to give them a chance so they can see what they have. If just one of them can get to 80 catches and 1,100 yards they’ll turn out to be a bargain. They made the playoffs with a much worse receiving corps last season. This group should be able to help them do it again.

Bring in Hopkins and the offense will run through him, overshadowing all the others. And at his age, he’s only got another year or two in him meaning the Giants’ window to win with him would be right now.

But that window isn’t really open at the moment, which is why Hopkins is far more likely to land with a contender like Buffalo or Kansas City. He’s a luxury item, not a necessity. And for the Giants, who are still in the process of building a roster and a culture, Hopkins is a luxury they really shouldn’t try to afford.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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DeAndre Hopkins


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