DeAndre Hopkins

Stephon Gilmore's list of toughest WRs to cover has a notable omission

Stephon Gilmore's list of toughest WRs to cover has a notable omission

Game recognizes game -- to a certain extent.

New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore recently was asked on The Ringer's "The Bakari Sellers Podcast" to name the five NFL wide receivers he believes are the hardest to play against.

Gilmore's answer, as transcribed by USA TODAY:

"[Antonio Brown], you got Tyreek Hill just because of his speed, you got Odell Beckham (who's) pretty tough. … Julio Jones, I would say he’s in my top five too, probably one or two, but I haven’t played against him. … Michael Thomas … he’s a monster."

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It's hard to quibble with that list of elite wideouts. But guess who didn't make Gilmore's top-five list? First-team All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, whom NFL.com ranked as the league's No. 1 receiver last season.

In case you forgot, Gilmore and Hopkins have a history, stemming from their Twitter beef following the Houston Texans' win over New England last December.

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Might that beef have been on Gilmore's mind when he named a guy who played one game last season (Brown), a guy who finished 26th in the NFL in receiving yards (Beckham) and a guy he hasn't even played against (Jones) instead of Hopkins?

It's possible -- although Gilmore limited Hopkins to five catches for 64 yards in that Dec. 2019 contest, so perhaps the Patriots cornerback simply has less trouble with Hopkins than he does with these other talented receivers.

If Hopkins feels slighted by Gilmore's snub, he can let the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year know this season: Hopkins' Arizona Cardinals visit the Patriots on Nov. 29.

Did Bill O'Brien compare DeAndre Hopkins to Aaron Hernandez in meeting?

Did Bill O'Brien compare DeAndre Hopkins to Aaron Hernandez in meeting?

The Texans' reported trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals was a shocker.

Why would Houston give up its superstar wide receiver for a declining running back and two (non-first-round) draft picks?

Michael Irvin hinted at part of the reason Wednesday morning, and it's quite the eye-opener.

During an appearance on ESPN's "Get Up!", the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver shared what Hopkins told him about Texans coach Bill O'Brien.

"He said, 'Michael, it was a bit of a power struggle there because Coach O’Brien thought he had too much influence over the locker room,' " Irvin said. "(Hopkins) called DeAndre Hopkins in a meeting to talk about this, and kind of hash it out."

That's when O'Brien apparently made a very unflattering comparison. Via Irvin:

"He told DeAndre Hopkins, 'The last time I had to have a meeting like this, it was with Aaron Hernandez.'

"I was like, ‘What, he put in Aaron Hernandez in this meeting?’ (Hopkins) said, 'Yes he did. ... That blew my mind that he would even bring that up. I’ve never been in any trouble. I don’t know why he would even equate me with Aaron Hernandez.' "

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O'Brien was Hernandez's quarterbacks coach (2010) and offensive coordinator (2011) for two seasons with the New England Patriots. But it's a wild stretch to compare Hopkins with the troubled tight end, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 and committed suicide from his prison cell in 2017.

According to Irvin, O'Brien also told Hopkins he didn't like how the wide receiver had children with multiple women.

"He told DeAndre that he doesn’t like that he has his baby mamas around sometimes," Irvin said. "And from there I think the relationship just went bad."

We only have Hopkins' side of the story, but it certainly appears the wide receiver and his head coach had a fractured relationship that may have led to Houston parting ways with one of the NFL's most talented players.

NFL Rumors: Patriots to sign free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd

NFL Rumors: Patriots to sign free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd

In a week where star receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs were moved in somewhat stunning trades, the Patriots reportedly have made a receiver move of their own.

And on a day their face of the franchise departed, it's slightly underwhelming.

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The Patriots are signing free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd, Doug Kyed of NESN reports. 

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Byrd, 27, is coming off his best season in the NFL with 32 catches on 46 targets for 359 yards for the Arizona Cardinals last season after three injury-filled seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Panthers out of South Carolina in 2016.

Byrd appeared in 11 games for Arizona last season and missed some time with a hamstring injury. 

For Phil Perry's look at the Patriots receiver situation heading into free agency, click here.