Sources: Deshaun Watson-DeAndre Hopkins reunion regarded as strong possibility, and a return to Houston is not expected

All-Pro wide receiver is not expected to rejoin franchise

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 23: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans celebrates his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) (Mitchell Leff, 2018 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson built one of the most potent passing connections in the game during their shared tenure with the Texans, forming a chemistry and timing unmatched around the league.

They could have a potential reunion with the Cleveland Browns with strong mutual interest existing between the All-Pro wide receiver, the former Texans quarterback and the AFC North franchise, according to league sources.

While Hopkins has expressed interest in the Texans, a potential reunion is not expected at this time, according to sources. Hopkins has no visits scheduled at this time, according to sources.

The Texans are making progress as they continue to rebuild, drafting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr., signing free agents Sheldon Rankins, Dalton Schultz, Jimmie Ward and trading for offensive guard Shaq Mason. They have a young receiving corps with players they’re developing, including Nico Collins, John Metchie III and Tank Dell, to go with veteran wide receiver Robert Woods. Potentially adding Hopkins, while it would undoubtedly bolster the offense, would cost a lot of money and also take away playing time from developing receivers.

It’s early in Hopkins’ free agent process and his next destination remains a fluid situation at this time with a lot of it contingent on price, according to a source.

From a financial standpoint, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18 million maximum value contract is regarded as a potential benchmark for a Hopkins deal. Signing him won’t be an inexpensive undertaking for whichever team lands him.

Watson, a former Pro Bowl quarterback with the Texans traded to the Browns, is excited about the possibility of adding his former teammate, a dynamic downfield target, to the roster.

When the former Clemson standouts were teammates, Hopkins caught 264 passes for 3,343 yards and 25 touchdowns with Watson delivering the football for the Texans.

“Of course we would love to have him,” Watson told Cleveland reporters this week. “He knows that. We had a lot of connections, but that’s kind of out of my range of things, of kind of coordinating things. So all I can do is make a call and see what happens and let (Browns general manager Andrew Berry) do the rest.”

“Me and D-Hop, we just naturally talk. We’ve been talking since the Houston days and then also whenever he left for Arizona, we were always talking. He’s always been a brother of mine since how I was coming out of high school. Our connection, our relationship, has always been great.”

Hopkins, 30, caught 64 passes for 717 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Cardinals before being released. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2021 and made a healthy return last season.

When healthy, Hopkins’ ability to make acrobatic contested catches with his body control, size, strength and hands is off the charts.

“D-Hop, DeAndre Hopkins, would love to be in a place where the opportunity is there for us to win,” Watson said. “We check all those boxes. I think for us to know and make sure we check all those boxes on the national stage, we got to go out there and prove it, and I think D-Hop would love to be a part of that and proving people wrong.”

The Browns’ receiving corps, which already includes Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, Marquise Goodwin, David Bell and Cedric Tillman, would be bolstered by Hopkins’ accomplished presence.

Watson made consecutive Pro Bowls throwing to Hopkins before he was traded to the Cardinals in 2020 in exchange for former All-Pro running back David Johnson along with second-round and fourth-round draft selections.

“I mean, it really just starts off with him,” Watson said. “He just makes the throws a lot easier. His range, catch radius is super; it’s probably the best in the league. And, I mean, just the things he do, he just made my job a lot easier. So, I just put the ball in his direction. He made the plays.”

The Cardinals cut Hopkins, creating a dead salary cap hit of $22.6 million with $8.15 million in cap space created, after unsuccessfully shopping him via trade discussions with multiple teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. Both are teams that would interest Hopkins, according to sources.

For the Cardinals, he caught 221 passes for 2,696 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons.

As a long-tenured and productive player, Hopkins has connections across the league. That includes the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, his former coach with the Texans.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has always had a lot of respect for Hopkins, consistently praising the South Carolina native.

Belichick declined to comment on Hopkins this week to New England reporters.

Prior to a game against the Cardinals last season, Belichick was highly complimentary of the veteran wide receiver.

“He’s got tremendous ball skills,” Belichick said. “He catches everything, great hands. He’s never covered, even if he’s covered. There’s a place the ball can be that he can get it, still make the catch. Great coordination on the sidelines, and he doesn’t really look it, but he’s a strong kid. You see him break tackles, he’s strong creating separation, yards after contact, extra yards around the goal line or the extra yard for a first down.

“He’s a smart football player, very savvy. His ball skills are at the very elite level with guys I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are, Cris Carters of the world and guys like that. He’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.”

Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and

About the Author: