the titans are expected to sign Hopkins this week, adding a No. 1 receiver to the roster the week before the start of training camp. The Titans have made similar moves to bring in superstar receivers in their senior years in the past, including Randy Moss in 2010, Andre Johnson in 2016 and Julio Jones in 2021.
Speaking on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast hosted by former Titans Taylor Lewan and Will Compton, Vrabel said he doesn’t feel the need to compare Hopkins’ situation to anyone else’s.
“I don’t think what happened in the past with another player applies to this particular player,” Vrabel said. “We wouldn’t have signed him if we weren’t sure he would help us.”
Moss, Johnson and Jones were all flops with the Titans. Moss caught six passes in eight games, Johnson caught nine passes in eight games and Jones battled injuries en route to 31 receptions in 10 games. None of the three lasted more than one season with the team.
It’s unfair from the start to compare Hopkins to Moss or Johnson. Moss was 33 years old and in his 13th year in the NFL season when he joined the Titans in the middle of a season. Johnson was 35 years old and in his 14th NFL season. Hopkins is only heading into year 11 and just turned 31 in June. Moss and Johnson, by comparison, were 1,000-yard receivers at age 31.
Jones is a bit more analog. He was 32 when the Titans traded him, heading into his 11th year. Like Hopkins, he only played nine games the year before he came to Nashville. But Jones missed all of his games due to a hamstring injury; Hopkins missed only two games through injury and the other six served a suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
The other crucial difference is Hopkins’ history with the Titans’ coaching staff. Vrabel, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and passing game coordinator Charles London coached Hopkins when he was with the Houston Texans, and that built-in familiarity makes it easier for Vrabel and his staff to know what to expect from Hopkins.
“Anytime in free agency, you have to have a working knowledge of the player in the building,” Vrabel said. “Whether one of your coaches has coached him or you’ve known him. Just for the million reasons that we talk about with the culture and what it’s going to be like and what the expectations are. Sometimes free agency is great and sometimes it’s not. You have to be careful.”
Nick Suss is the Titans’ beat writer for The Tennessee. Contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.