Albert Breer

Breer: Patriots were involved in DeAndre Hopkins trade talks

Breer: Patriots were involved in DeAndre Hopkins trade talks

The world was stunned when DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday afternoon. Along with a fourth-round pick, Hopkins was sent to the desert with David Johnson, a second-round pick, and a fourth-round pick coming back to the Houston Texans.

But evidently, Hopkins being moved had been discussed in NFL circles in recent weeks. And according to Bert Breer, the New England Patriots were one of the teams involved in the trade talks surrounding Hopkins.

"I was actually told that they were part of the DeAndre Hopkins discussions over the past couple of weeks," Breer said on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition.

Hopkins has long been one of the NFL's better receivers and posted 104 catches, 1,165 receiving yards and seven touchdowns for the Texans last season. It was his third consecutive 1,000+ yard season.

So, why didn't the Patriots ultimately get Hopkins at the low price that the Texans sold him for? According to Breer, they may have known too much about the veteran receiver.

"There was a little bit of a personality conflict between O'Brien and Hopkins. And it makes you wonder, maybe the Patriots had a little bit too much information on that," Breer said. "Maybe because they knew that, they thought that there could be an issue. And the other part of it is, of course, Hopkins wants a new contract. He's going to get one in Arizona. So, are you willing to go to $20, $21, $22 million a year for a receiver? That could've been a problem."

No matter what the reason, Hopkins won't be wearing Patriots colors this season.

The Patriots should still be looking for some help at the receiver position as they try to convince Tom Brady to return to the team. Could they have an interest in a guy like Stefon Diggs, who's latest cryptic tweet indicates he isn't happy in Minnesota? Maybe. But either way, expect the Patriots to explore some receiver options in the coming days.

Patriots trade targets: Which wide receivers, tight ends could team pursue?

Patriots trade targets: Which wide receivers, tight ends could team pursue?

According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the New England Patriots are "sniffing around the trade market" for wide receivers and tight ends.

That report begs the question: What does the trade market look like for wide receivers and tight ends?

Breer joined NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight" on Monday to flesh out his report, as he and Patriots Insider Phil Perry broke down which teams the Patriots may deal with and which players might be available.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"I think you start with the teams they trust, because that's who they're going to talk to initially," Breer said. " ... Places where they've got people they know in place."

For Breer, that list includes the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions (all coached by former Patriots assistants) as well as the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose general managers, Thomas Dimitroff and Jason Licht, both used to work in New England's personnel department.

Breer then speculated a few names the Patriots could pursue if they're made available.

Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate
Breer: "Tampa has multiple tight ends and hasn't had great use of the position under Bruce Arians. I think Cameron Brate -- a local college guy having gone to Harvard -- would be an interesting name for them."

Brate, who caught 36 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns last season, is under contract through 2023 and will make a reasonable $6 million in 2020. He'd help New England fill a massive void at pass-catching tight end.

Rams wide receiver Robert Woods
Breer: "If he were to be made available, I think he'd be somebody who'd be of interest."

Woods has two more years remaining on his current deal and has topped 1,000 receiving yards in two straight seasons with Los Angeles. It's hard to see the Rams making him available, but perhaps they'll shake things up after a disappointing 9-7 campaign.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller
Breer: "I think you at least put in the ask: Will Fuller is at the end of his rookie deal, he could be interesting and bring that speed element they've been missing."

Fuller has struggled with injuries but is a burner when healthy, with a career average of 14.3 yards per catch. Breer added the Patriots could "swing for the fences" and target DeAndre Hopkins, but Fuller and Hopkins may be their only options in Houston: Tight end Darren Fells reached an agreement with the Texans on Tuesday morning, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

Perry also threw out Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham as two "A1" options for New England amid rumblings that both possibly could be trade targets this offseason.

"Are they available? We're not sure. Would they fit in this offense? 100 percent," Perry added. "They would also double up and serve as an enticement for Tom Brady to come back and re-sign with the Patriots."

We're still in the speculation phase of the offseason: We still don't know where Brady will sign in free agency and which players are clear trade targets.

But there certainly are names on the board if the Patriots want to do a little "sniffing."

Check out Breer and Perry's full discussion in the video player above.

NFL Rumors: Which teams besides Patriots are interested in Tom Brady?

NFL Rumors: Which teams besides Patriots are interested in Tom Brady?

Tom Brady's free-agent decision is the hottest topic in the sports world at the moment. 

The New England Patriots quarterback could stay with the team or move on and play elsewhere. If Bill Belichick and the Patriots don't pay Brady the money he wants and don't give him some offensive weapons, he very well could be on the move. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all said to have some level of interest in Brady. The question is, how much interest do they have? And will they strongly pursue Brady once he becomes a free agent?

On Thursday's Arbella Early Edition, Albert Breer ranked the level of interest in Brady from the teams listed above, while also discussing the possibility Brady heads to the San Francisco 49ers. 

Here's how Breer ranked the teams by interest in Brady:

1. Titans
2. Chargers
3. Buccaneers
4. Raiders

 

The Titans still need to make a decision on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Breer mentions that Tennessee would be the best situation for Brady. The Titans have some nice offensive talent centered around running back Derrick Henry, and Brady has a relationship with head coach Mike Vrabel. 

There's also the possibility that Brady heads to a team like the San Francisco 49ers, who are more than ready to compete for another Super Bowl title. 

Although Brady may have a natural connection to the Bay Area, Breer noted that the Niners may want to stick with a much younger QB in Jimmy Garoppolo. 

I'm just going to drop a scenario for you guys right here. Let's say Tom Brady has a feel for the market right now and it's not quite what he thought it might be. Let's say he starts thinking creatively who might want me. Where's he from? San Francisco. Who was in the Super Bowl last year? San Francisco. So you look at that element. Does he have a natural connection to San Francisco? We've talked a lot about Mike Vrabel and Tennessee. Who's on San Francisco's staff? Wes Welker. So if he wanted to communicate to the Niners that 'Hey, I might have an interest in playing here,' he could do that.

And so, I'm not so sure the interest didn't start here going from the player to the team versus the team to the player. And if you're the Niners, you have to discuss it. No matter how highly you think of Jimmy Garoppolo, this is the greatest quarterback of all time, and you have a team that's in a championship window. Do you do it? I don't think they'll do it. But, I think you at least have to discuss it.

Brady going to the 49ers has been a majority of the discussions surrounding him this week -- with Garoppolo returning to New England. If the Niners are seriously considering Brady, Belichick is going to have a serious situation on his hands. Who is he going to get to fill the hole at QB? Will he draft someone to lead the offense? Or will he look at other free agents that have already spent some time in the NFL?

It'll certainly be interesting as things begin to heat up.