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Bill Belichick loses face-off with Mike Vrabel for DeAndre Hopkins

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Friendship, smiendship.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Titans coach Mike Vrabel have had a great relationship over the years. They surely still do. But, on Sunday, Vrabel won the face-off with Belichick for receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Both teams wanted him. Hopkins wanted more than either team was offering. Eventually, he accepted what likely was the better financial offer — reportedly, two years, $26 million with $12 million this year and potential incentives of $3 million. (t's not known whether it's a real two-year deal; our guess is that the Titans hold an option for 2024.)

It's unclear what the Patriots offered. At one point, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com floated the idea of $10 million with incentives of another $2 million to $3 million. Although he never officially reported those numbers, they had a feel of wink-nod accuracy.

Hopkins surely wanted at least $15 million for 2023, since that's what Odell Beckham Jr. got from the Ravens. And Belichick presumably could have gotten Hopkins if he had simply been willing to out-bid Vrabel.

Ultimately, Belichick wasn't willing to do it. Which is a bit of a head-scratcher. With mounting pressure on Belichick to win in an ultra-competitive division, the fact that he wanted Hopkins presumably should have been enough to overcome a million here or a million there.

Now, Vrabel — whose position seems to be secure no matter what happens in 2023 — has gotten Hopkins, and Belichick will have to make do without him.

That said, there's always been a sense that Belichick had a bit of ambivalence about Hopkins. His reputation for not wanting to practice much, if at all, was a potential issue. Besides, when Belichick truly wants someone he tends to approach silently and close the deal before anyone realizes he was in the hunt. Maybe he simply wasn't all that interested in Hopkins in the first place.

Obviously, it's a more compelling story if he was.

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