FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) — For his second straight offseason with the New England Patriots, linebacker Matt Judon has kept up a side hustle of sorts as the team’s self-appointed recruiter.
Judon’s free agent target this time around is three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He is taking visits with potential suitors after Arizona released the five-time Pro Bowler in a salary cap move May 26 when it couldn’t find a trade partner this offseason.
The Cardinals cut Hopkins three seasons after acquiring him in a blockbuster trade in 2020 with Houston and had signed him to a $54.5 million contract extension through 2024.
After seeing a Twitter user pledge to donate $500 to a charity of Hopkins’ choosing to woo him, Judon chimed in.
“I’ll match, @DeAndreHopkins,” Judon tweeted.
But following the Patriots’ second minicamp practice on Tuesday, Judon downplayed his latest foray into trying to lure players to New England.
“You’ve seen all you’re going to get. I don’t run my Twitter, so I don’t know who be tweeting most of the time,” Judon said, smiling.
Past targets of Judon’s Twitter pitches have included players on both sides of the ball, from receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Allen Robinson, to linebacker Bobby Wagner and former Patriots players such as edge rusher Chandler Jones.
He’s yet to show success for his creative social media work. It hasn’t stopped him from trying.
Pressed on whether he had any personal relationship with Hopkins that might help the team land the receiver, Judon said his focus was on the players currently on the roster.
“DeAndre Hopkins is a free agent. If I know him as a friend or as a confidant it doesn’t matter,” Judon said. “He’s a great player. He did amazing things and wherever he lands, he lands. If it’s here, it’s here. Then we can talk about him.”
Hopkins has already visited the Tennessee Titans and Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed on Monday that the team has at least spoken with Hopkins, saying the team is “working through” setting up a possible visit to its facility in Foxborough.
If Hopkins does eventually decide to choose the Patriots, they have a roster spot open for him.
The team announced Monday that it had re-signed rookie free agent defensive lineman Justus Tavai, while releasing running back James Robinson and defensive back Tae Hayes.
Robinson’s release came as a surprise after the team signed the former Jet to a two-year contract with a base salary of $4 million. He was expected to be a potential replacement for Damien Harris, whom the team opted not to bring back.
Now the Patriots’ running back depth consists of projected starter Rhamondre Stevenson, with two second-year players in Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong behind him. Running back/receiver Ty Montgomery and running back J.J. Taylor, who is in his third year, also are on the roster.