NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals, NFL rumors

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts as he takes the field prior to an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints at State Farm Stadium on October 20, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have been actively shopping DeAndre Hopkins, and a trade is on the way because of it. 

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, trade talks centering around DeAndre Hopkins are ramping up. As a result of this development, it appears that a move could very well come to fruition shortly.

Hopkins is a high-impact wide receiver who has been garnering plenty of attention on the trade market, and it ultimately makes sense. He has the potential to improve an NFL’s club offense immensely, as he is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. As a result, teams that are looking to become legitimate contenders need to go all-in and try to win the Hopkins sweepstakes.

Let’s now look at three teams who need to be major players in the Hopkins race now.

NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

3. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots already made one move at the wide receiver position this offseason, signed JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, they should be looking to add another star receiver to their group before the start of the season in response to losing Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders. Thus, Hopkins needs to be a player on their radar.

The Patriots finished this past season with an underwhelming 8-9 record and missed the postseason because of it. When noting that New England always wants to be among the league’s contenders, this is unacceptable, so they need a player like Hopkins to get things back on track. Perhaps adding a star receiver like Hopkins could allow QB Mac Jones to take that next step and develop into a truly elite signal-caller.

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Analyzing the Jaguars offense: Which positions are set or need work for 2023

Analyzing the Jaguars offense: Which positions are set or need work for 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the league’s surprises in 2022, becoming just the fifth team since the 1970 merger to win their division after having the worst record in the NFL the previous season.

They won their last five regular-season games to win the AFC South, beat the Los Angeles Chargers in a wild-card playoff game and put up a fight with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.

With an experienced, Super-Bowl winning head coach, a top-10 quarterback, a talented group of pass-catchers, some young talent on defense and a division that includes two teams picking in the top 10 of the NFL draft, the Jaguars seem to be the favorite in the AFC South in 2023.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do, though.

“I think momentum can carry you, but every year is different,” Pederson said. “We’re trying to build the best roster just like the 31 other teams right now. We can learn from what we did, especially the second half of the season. I feel like we’ve got the right guys, the right makeup, the chemistry, the locker room is solid. Those are the things you build on.

“That’s the momentum you’re talking about with those guys right there. Guys that have been in Jacksonville [for several seasons], they’ve kind of gone through some tough times. Now this past year, they got on the other side of that. That’s the challenge now of keeping that rolling as we head into ’23.”

At least the Jaguars won’t go into this season with major questions about the offense the way they did in 2022:

Is Trevor Lawrence, the first overall pick in 2021, an elite quarterback?

Did the franchise make a mistake by giving receiver Christian Kirk — a player who had never had a 1,000-yard season — $37 million guaranteed?

Can running back Travis Etienne Jr. be a feature back?

Is tight end Evan Engram worth $9 million?

Yes, no, yes and yes. Most of the players from the NFL’s tenth-best offense in 2022 are coming back in 2023, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do.

Here’s a look at the roster and whether each offensive position group is set, needs some tweaking, or needs more work:

Quarterback — Set

The Jaguars shouldn’t have to worry about this spot for a long time with Lawrence, who threw for 4,113 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2022. His second-half surge — from Week 9 on he was second in the NFL in passer rating and completion percentage — and the way he rallied the Jaguars from a 27-0 first-half deficit in the playoff victory over the Los Angeles Chargers erased any doubts about his future. Veteran backup C.J. Beathard re-signed on a two-year deal but it wouldn’t be out of the question for the team to invest a late-round pick in a project QB that could eventually take over as Lawrence’s backup.

Running back — Needs to be tweaked

Etienne (1,125 yards) is the first 1,000-yard running back that Pederson has had in his six seasons as a head coach. Etienne has to be better with ball security (five fumbles, three lost) and work on taking less big hits. The problem with this position group is there’s not much experience behind him.

Etienne had 220 carries last season and the four players behind him — Qadree Ollison, JaMycal Hasty, Snoop Conner and Mekhi Sargent — have a combined 107 career carries. Hasty had a 61-yard touchdown run against the Indianapolis Colts, but averaged 3.0 yards on his other 45 carries. The Jaguars used a fifth-round pick on Conner last year and they could use another late pick on a back this year. If they don’t and one of those four doesn’t step up to be the clear No. 2 behind Etienne, they could mine the final roster cuts to add a player, which is how they landed Hasty last season.

Wide receiver — Set (ish)

It may seem off to say the position needs a little work because the Jaguars have added Calvin Ridley and Kirk (84 catches for 1,108 yards) and Zay Jones (82 for 823) set career highs in receptions and receiving yards in their first year in the offense. However, nobody knows what to expect out of Ridley. If he’s the 2020 Ridley (he caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine TDs while playing with a broken foot) then the Jaguars may have the best group of receivers in the league. However, the 2023 season opener will mark 23 months from Ridley’s last game and there’s no way to know how — or if — that layoff will impact him. If he struggles the Jaguars may opt to move on after the ‘23 season (he is playing on a fifth-year option). Even if he plays well and the Jaguars extend him, they still need to think about bringing in a young receiver that could step into a top three role in a year or two.

Tight end — Needs more work

Engram set single-season franchise records for catches and receiving yards by a tight end last season (73 for 766). Those also were career highs, too, and the Jaguars used the franchise tag on him while they’re trying to work out a new contract. Once you get past Engram, though, there are only two other tight ends on the roster: Luke Farrell (11 career catches) and Gerrit Prince, whom they signed as an undrafted rookie and spent the 2022 season on the practice squad. Expect the Jaguars to address this position at the draft.

Offensive line – Needs some tweaking

Right tackle Jawaan Taylor had the best year of his career and was the Jaguars’ most consistent lineman in 2022, but in free agency he signed with Kansas City on a four-year, $80 million deal. Walker Little, the No. 45 overall pick in 2021, should slide into the starting spot, but the Jaguars have to find a backup tackle. Left tackle Cam Robinson is coming off a knee injury but is expected to be cleared by the start of the season. Right guard Brandon Scherff played through ankle and abdominal injuries but didn’t miss a game and was solid in his first season with the Jaguars. If he can stay healthy the Jaguars hope he can return to the Pro Bowl level at which he played 2019-21.

Center Luke Fortner played every snap and was the Jaguars’ best rookie last season, but the team wants him to get stronger in the offseason. Left guard is the only spot where there’s a question. Tyler Shatley filled in solidly after starter Ben Bartch went down with a season-ending knee injury. Shatley is a valuable reserve who also can play center but the team wants better interior line play overall and left guard may be the spot they look to upgrade in the draft.

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'Still got it': QB Newton throws at Auburn pro day

'Still got it': QB Newton throws at Auburn pro day

AUBURN, Ala. — After not playing at all during the 2022 season, Cam Newton got to show what he can still do.

Newton, 33, threw in front of scouts at a pro day event Tuesday at Auburn, where he won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the 2010 season.

The 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player was invited to throw at Auburn by his younger brother, Caylin — a former quarterback at Howard who finished his collegiate career as a wide receiver at Auburn and William & Mary.

“This was him showing love to me,” Caylin Newton said of his older brother. “He doesn’t owe anybody anything. He has had an amazing journey, an amazing career in the NFL. He has nothing to prove to anybody. … He came to show his ability, show he still has it.

“I think, for him, this was a selfless act. But it was also to show and prove to everybody he’s not sitting around. He’s still got it. Whatever organization wants to get a winning quarterback, his number’s still open and available.”

Cam Newton declined to speak to reporters in Auburn on Tuesday. During the workout, Newton threw more than 30 passes to several NFL hopefuls from Auburn, including wide receiver Shedrick Jackson.

“That was fun,” Jackson said. “That was probably my most favorite part, just learning his lingo, seeing his cadence. He’s got good touch on the ball. … I think he’s still got it.”

In perhaps the biggest highlight of the workout, Newton showcased his trademark scrambling ability in the pocket before throwing a 50-yard pass downfield to his younger brother.

Newton, who has played 11 seasons as a pro, hasn’t attempted a pass in an NFL game since Dec. 26, 2021. He rejoined the Carolina Panthers midway through the 2021 season and went 0-5 as a starting quarterback.

Newton’s last full season in the league came in 2020, when he was a member of the New England Patriots. Newton was a three-time Pro Bowl selection in his first stint with the Panthers, where he won both AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and MVP honors while also leading the team to Super Bowl 50.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft made headlines Monday evening when he announced on social media that he would throw at Auburn’s pro day.

“Tell me how these randoms keep getting jobs?” Newton said in a video posted to Twitter. “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to show you. I can’t wait to show you.”

According to his younger brother, Newton has been working hard to get back into the league after a year away.

“What everyone sees on the TV screen, they see his character and they see his confidence,” Caylin Newton said.

“They don’t see the grit. They don’t see how many hours he puts in. So, the media has what they say about who he is. I know who he is. And anywhere he’s been, they know who he is, too.”

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Cowboys add vet RB Jones to help fill Zeke void

Cowboys add vet RB Jones to help fill Zeke void

FRISCO, Texas — A week after releasing Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent running back Ronald Jones, the team announced Tuesday.

It doesn’t mean Jones, a former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be Elliott’s sole replacement in 2023, but the Cowboys have provided depth as a complement to Tony Pollard, who is on the $10.091 million franchise tag.

The Cowboys also agreed to a deal with defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. to become the third defender to re-sign with the team, along with safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, a source told ESPN.

Jones spent last season with the Kansas City Chiefs but appeared in just six games with 17 carries after a four-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His best year came in 2020 when Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl, and he finished with 978 yards on 192 carries with seven touchdowns.

Jones, who played not far from the Cowboys’ practice facility, The Star, at McKinney North High School, signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs last year, but found himself behind Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. For his career, he has 2,224 yards rushing on 507 carries with 19 touchdowns.

While the Cowboys have Pollard under the franchise tag, it is possible they could work out a multiyear agreement by the July 17 deadline. The Cowboys also have Malik Davis, an undrafted free agent last year, on the roster and re-signed Rico Dowdle, who was hurt for a good portion last season, to a one-year deal.

Jones is the second free agent the Cowboys have added Monday, as Dallas also signed offensive lineman Chuma Edoga to a one-year deal. He provides depth to their line after losing last year’s starting left guard, Connor McGovern, in free agency to the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys’ biggest acquisitions so far have come on trades for cornerback Stephon Gilmore (Indianapolis Colts) and wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans) for third-day draft picks.

The tagging of Pollard and the addition of Jones does not preclude the Cowboys from taking a running back early in the draft, including at No. 26 in the first round.

Fowler had six sacks in just 343 snaps last season after joining the Cowboys as a free agent from the Atlanta Falcons on a one-year deal. He was able to record the third-most sacks he has had in his career after reuniting with coordinator Dan Quinn, who recruited him to the University of Florida and coached him in Atlanta.

With Fowler, the Cowboys have their top five sack leaders from a year ago back in 2024, including Micah Parsons (13.5), Dorance Armstrong (8.5), DeMarcus Lawrence (6) and Wilson (5). Last year’s second-round pick, Sam Williams, had four sacks. The Cowboys had 54 sacks last year, tied for third in the NFL and the most by a Dallas defense since 2008 (59).

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Hightower retires after winning 3 titles with Pats

Hightower retires after winning 3 titles with Pats

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Longtime New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who won three Super Bowl championships over his nine-year career, officially announced his retirement Tuesday.

“I can’t think of a better story than the one I wrote in New England,” Hightower said in an essay posted on The Players’ Tribune website. “So this is a happy day for me … Today, I’m totally at peace knowing that I gave this franchise every ounce of sweat I had left.”

The 33-year-old, nicknamed “Mr. February” by coach Bill Belichick because of his knack for making clutch plays in Super Bowls, didn’t play in 2020 as a COVID-19 opt-out, and he also sat out the 2022 season.

Hightower played in 117 regular-season games (114 starts) and totaled 569 tackles and 27 sacks. He appeared in 17 playoff games, starting all of them, amassing 81 tackles and three sacks.

He was one of the hardest-hitting linebackers in the NFL during his career, all spent in New England, and his versatility to play both off the line of scrimmage and then on the line as a pass-rusher made him a valuable chess piece in Belichick’s always-morphing schemes.

Among his most clutch plays were a strip sack of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI to help spark the Patriots’ comeback from a 28-3 second-half deficit, and a bruising tackle of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch near the goal line on the play that preceded Malcolm Butler‘s game-saving interception in Super Bowl XLIX.

A native of Lewisburg, Tennessee, who played at the University of Alabama and won two national championships with the Crimson Tide, Hightower joined the Patriots as a first-round draft pick in 2012.

“I appreciate everyone who helped me make this dream come true,” Hightower said. “But I especially want to thank my mom [L’Tanya]. None of this happens without her.”

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Seahawks cut Woods as D-line revamp continues

Seahawks cut Woods as D-line revamp continues

The Seattle Seahawks have released veteran defensive tackle Al Woods, the team announced Monday.

The move clears $3.67 million in cap space and continues the overhaul of Seattle’s defensive line. The Seahawks released Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson last week, and have now moved on from Woods, their defensive co-captain in 2022.

Woods, who turns 36 on Saturday, started 14 games last season. He recorded 39 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss while primarily serving as an early-down run defender in his third stint with Seattle.

He appeared in two games for the Seahawks in 2011, returned in 2019 and then signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020 only to take a COVID-19 opt-out. He returned to Seattle last offseason on a two-year, $9 million deal. His release incurs $1.75 million in dead money.

The Seahawks struggled mightily against the run while breaking in a new 3-4 scheme last year, prompting them to remake their defensive line over the first week of free agency. Seattle signed Dre’Mont Jones to a three-year, $51.53 million deal and also brought back another defensive tackle in Jarran Reed.

Poona Ford, one of the regulars on Seattle’s defensive line since 2019, remains a free agent.

General manager John Schneider said on his Seattle Sports Radio show last week that the Seahawks are still talking to “a number” of defensive linemen.

Woods, a fourth-round pick by the Saints in 2010, has also played for the Buccaneers, Steelers, Titans and Colts.

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