DeAndre Hopkins - 2 Years/$26 Million With the Tennessee Titans
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This past weekend the news broke that DeAndre Hopkins (WR) had made his decision to sign with the Tennessee Titans.
The contract, while not yet official, is expected to come in around $26 million over 2 years with the potential to earn an additional $6 million via performance incentives. No detailed reports available on the guaranteed money at this time, but I would expect that to be in the 42% of base value range.
Ranking of Average Per Year (APY) of the base value, the contract value places Hopkins at 22nd at the position.
The timing of Hopkins’ release from Arizona likely put a cap on any potential big contract. NFL teams have, for the most part, set their cash budgets and have their salary cap allocations in order. If Hopkins’ release was to occur at the start of the league year in March, more money would have been available.
Hopkins, who turned 31 in June, took the best offer available if media reports are to be believed (which I do). This was Hopkins’ first run at free agency and will be the last chance for a sizeable contract. Hopkins has career (2013-2022) earnings of $114.46 million.
Signing with Tennessee will reunite Hopkins with a familiar offensive play caller in Tim Kelly. Kelly was an offensive assistant in Houston starting in 2014, and was the offensive coordinator 2019 through 2021. Kelly was promoted to offensive coordinator in Tennessee this past offseason. Head Coach Mike Vrabel was the Linebackers Coach and Defensive Coordinator in Houston while Hopkins was in Houston.
In 2019 Houston ran “11” personnel, on 61% (729) of snaps, with the trio of Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills. Of those 729 snaps, under Kelly, the Texans had a pass rate of 69%. Houston did have a top tier quarterback in Deshaun Watson at that time.
Remains to be seen if Kelly will deploy a similar scheme/methodology in Tennessee in 2023 with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and runningback Derrick Henry. In 2022 Tennessee ran 11 personnel on just 54% of their snaps with a lower pass rate of 63%.
Hopkins has spent the past three seasons in Arizona operating in a completely different offensive scheme with Kliff Kingsbury’s “air raid” system. Even with Hopkins returning to his old Earnhardt/Perkins style scheme in Tennessee; he was a top tier wide receiver in Arizona.
Hopkins has missed game time the past two seasons for both injury and PED suspension. Despite the missed time Hopkins still had strong performance output.
(the above table is interactive, hover your mouse over data points)
Combined over the 2021 & 2022 regular seasons Hopkins scored 40% of the receiving touchdowns with a 23% target share. This would place Hopkins in the Top 10 in the above scatter plot among wide receivers. Marquise Brown worked opposite of Hopkins seeing the same target share, but at a lower touchdown share.
Yards Per Route Run (YPRR) is one of my preferred metrics, especially compared to Yards Per Reception or Yards Per Target. In the above scatter plot compares how often the player was the quarterback’s first read against their YPRR. Hopkins measurable numbers drop a bit, however still in the Top 15 among wide receivers. While Hopkins may not have been the leader in 1st read looks from the quarterback, however Hopkins maintained an efficient work with the ball both in ADot and YAC.
Can Hopkins Continue to Be Effective?
Hopkins turning 31 in June would most often trigger a red flag for me. Hopkins does take care of his body off the field, and does protect himself with limited work in practice. But at the end of the day he shows up on game day. Conversely, Hopkins’ route running preciseness is not what it used to be.
Hopkins was afforded a large “cushion” in 2022 per NextGen Stats at 6.9 yards of cushion at the line of scrimmage, likely a factor of the scheme. Given that large cushion Hopkins was middle of the pack with 2.8 yards of separation when targeted per NextGen Stats. I am not confident Hopkins will receive the same cushion in 2023 in Tim Kelly’s scheme.
The Mike Vrabel locker room is the best place for Hopkins and his presence to continue with high rates of success in the league. Hopkins may have to contend with the idea of not being the primary X receiver with Treylon Burks on the field. Can Hopkins transition to the Z role doing more dirty work underneath?
If health remains on Hopkins’ side my guess is we will see 90% of the Hopkins performance from the charts above. Hoping my guy Derek Stingley can lock him down when matched up with Hopkins.
Thanks for reading!
Below is a full table with wide receivers in the same data set. The table is searchable and sortable.
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