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WR DeAndre Hopkins 'very happy' to sign with Titans: 'People are writing us off'

DeAndre Hopkins' free agency didn't end with him joining an anticipated contender.

Well, at least not according to most prognosticators. When Hopkins puts his analyst hat on, though, he sees a different future, one that involves he and his Titans teammates stunning most everyone.

"I feel like I've always had something to prove, and that's how I play my game," Hopkins said, via the team's official site. "The decision to come to Nashville, obviously, made a lot of people mad. But I kind of felt at home being here from the get-go, from early on.

"Tennessee is a team not many people put on their list, and I think I am not just speaking for myself, but the team as well, people are writing us off."

When the Cardinals unceremoniously released Hopkins this offseason, his list of top destinations was littered with contenders. Buffalo and Kansas City appeared most often, but others -- Detroit, Dallas, etc. -- also surfaced more than once.

It was surprising, then, to see him launch his free agency tour with stops in Nashville and New England. After weeks of waiting, his first visit ended up being his best.

Hopkins explained he chose the Titans because of comfort and familiarity with important figures in Tennessee. He spent time with coach Mike Vrabel and assistant Tim Kelly in Houston, and believes they have his best interest in mind. After being traded from Houston to Arizona, then spending the last year and a half mired in struggles both similar to and different from what the rest of the Cardinals organization endured, Hopkins wanted to go somewhere he believed would value him as more than just a football player.

"I am very happy, very glad," Hopkins said Monday. "This was a team that as soon as the offseason hit and I knew I was possibly going to be traded, this was a team that was on my list of places that I wanted to play because of the history Mike Vrabel and I have, the history Tim Kelly and I have.

"I wanted to be somewhere where I knew people had my best interests, not just on the field but off the field as well."

Hopkins knows what he'll get in Vrabel -- "a straight-shooter" who, during his career, "has checked in on me" -- but what he doesn't know is how the Titans will perform in 2023. Ryan Tannehill is entering what certainly seems will be a lame-duck season at quarterback, Derrick Henry is nearing 30 years old and the Titans don't exactly have a ton of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

In a best-case scenario, Hopkins thrives, mentors youngster Treylon Burks and the Titans surprise everyone with a run to the playoffs. The worst-case scenario would essentially be a repeat of what happened to Hopkins in Arizona in 2022.

It's worth the risk. And as Hopkins sees it, he's coming to town to elevate a team that might need it.

"Besides wins, (the Titans) are getting someone who is going to push people around me, and make everybody else's job a little easier," Hopkins said. "(The Titans) are getting someone who is a hard worker, someone who is going to practice hard, play hard, and push everybody around me as well to elevate their game.

"They are getting somebody who doesn't have an ego, someone who is coming in and bonding to the system."

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