Tuesday, June 25, 2024

DeAndre Hopkins says Titans have one of the best WR groups he’s ever been around after free agent frenzy

The Tennessee Titans are expected to undergo quite the shift in offensive philosophy in 2024 under new head coach Brian Callahan. While the past few years of Titans football has been centered around Derrick Henry and pounding the rock, Callahan’s system promises to feature plenty of passing.

The Titans front office has done a tremendous job adding weaponry for coach Callahan and second-year quarterback Will Levis. Tennessee signed running back Tony Pollard to replace Henry, stole wide receiver Calvin Ridley away from the rival Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency with a four-year, $92 million deal and signed former Cincinnati Bengals slot weapon Tyler Boyd. They join veteran pass-catcher DeAndre Hopkins — who is bullish on this new group.

“I think this is one of the best wide receiver groups I’ve had the chance to play with on paper,” Hopkins said, via the Titans’ official website. “Obviously, I could come up here and say a bunch, but we haven’t played a game yet. So, we’ll see how it goes once we hit the field.”

Despite playing in a bottom-five offense with two different quarterbacks who had to perform behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Hopkins recorded his seventh career 1,000-yard campaign in 2023, with 1,057 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 75 receptions. He established chemistry with Levis, who in his historic NFL debut threw three touchdowns to Hopkins in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

As for Ridley, he returned to the NFL last year and led the Jags with 1,016 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 76 receptions. It was the first full NFL season he had played since his rookie year back in 2018, and Ridley proved he’s still an elite route-runner. Ridley may be 29 years old, but he told reporters this offseason he’s “probably like 25, for real.”

“Ya’ll gonna see. I can run with the youngins, I can run with the oldins,” Ridley said. “I can run all day, I can play all day. I love football man. It’s all I ever did, bro. Pretty much. This is what I do.”

Boyd was the final piece to the puzzle. While he’s probably not the player Hopkins or Ridley are, it was his signing that led to this new-look Titans offense being talked about more, and solidified Tennessee in having one of the best WR trios in the league. Boyd has the fourth-most receptions (513) and seventh-most receiving yards (6,000) in Bengals franchise history, and he has familiarity with the kind of scheme Callahan will run in Tennessee with him being Cincinnati’s former offensive coordinator. 

The Titans’ talent at receiver doesn’t stop there, as Tennessee also has former first-round pick Treylon Burks, slot weapon Kyle Phillips, who led the Titans in receiving a couple of games over the last two years, and rookie Jha’Quan Jackson out of Tulane. Hopkins may be correct in hypothesizing this could be the best wide receiver group he’s played with, and it’s the main reason there’s so much optimism in Music City entering 2024. 

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