Familiar dark horse emerging in DeAndre Hopkins race

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Keep an eye on DeAndre Hopkins possibly reuniting with Deshaun Watson on the Cleveland Browns.

It wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world to see DeAndre Hopkins catching passes from Deshaun Watson again.

Not that long ago, Hopkins was Watson’s go-to receiving target with the Houston Texans. So much has happened since 2019, for better or worse. For now, Watson enters year two with the Cleveland Browns, while Hopkins is looking to find a new place to play after three years with the Arizona Cardinals. Cleveland doesn’t have a ton of cap space, but the Browns must do something.

Apparently, Hopkins isn’t opposed to reuniting with Watson in Cleveland in his NFL free agency.

Let’s discuss why the Browns might be one of the better landing spots for Hopkins this offseason.

NFL rumors: DeAndre Hopkins is open to a Deshaun Watson reunion in Cleveland

Although they were Texans teammates for four years previously, let’s also not overlook the Clemson Family bond Hopkins and Watson share. While Hopkins had already turned pro by the time Watson got on campus, they appear to have a pretty deep and multi-faceted connection. Connectivity will play a big part in the Browns making a charge in what will be a deep AFC North.

The expectation entering 2023 is it is Cincinnati Bengals’ division to lose, with the Baltimore Ravens not that far behind them, and the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers duking it out for third place. While 2020 is firmly behind us, it also wasn’t that long ago. Cleveland showed at least during that season it can somewhat hold its own with the best teams the AFC could hope to offer.

I would anticipate Watson to be closer to his 2019 Texans self this season than what we saw out of him in a smaller sample size last year in Cleveland. His legal situation is not front-page news anymore. Even if it was gross and self-inflicted, he has a job to do, which is to be the franchise quarterback the Browns haven’t had since … Bernie Kosar. Perhaps Hopkins can help him be that?

Even if Cleveland is not seen as a top-half team in the AFC, the Browns will play a fourth-place schedule next year. We tend to like their head coach in Kevin Stefanski, as well as their general manager in Andrew Berry. Ownership is a completely different beast, but as long as the Browns have Berry and Stefanski pulling in the same direction, we can get behind these Ivy League guys.

So does Team Ivy League get back in the win column a bit more? Figure out a way to inject some more Clemson Family into the equation! Keep in mind that if the Browns don’t sign Hopkins, he is probably going to another AFC team, and one with serious Super Bowl aspirations. I think the Detroit Lions are the best fit for him, but Cleveland makes more since than Buffalo or Kansas City.

The upside to adding Hopkins to the Browns is far less risky than going for broke with Watson.

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