Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins Released After 3 Years! What Awaits?

After months of trying to move WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Arizona Cardinals gave him his official release. Now he’s a free agent. How did the winds of time change?

  • Published on 11 months ago
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins


After months of trying to move WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Arizona Cardinals gave him his official release. Now he’s a free agent. We can’t help but remember how general manager Monti Ossenfort came out, stating the trade rumors weren’t true and that Hopkins would remain a Cardinal. How did the winds of time change, or was he lying from the get-go?

The Cardinals extended Hopkins’ contract for $54.5 million three years ago. In 2023, Hopkins would earn $19.4 million; in 2024, it would’ve been $14.9 million. They’ll pay the price this year because Hopkins’ release will cost the Cardinals $22.6 in dead cap money for 2023. One report stated $21 million, but most of the dead money will happen this season.

Most believe when healthy, Hopkins can still post elite numbers, but there are worries about his age, and you can’t remove his PED suspension from the formula either. How much was PEDS helping his performance? That’s a legitimate question, and then the bigger question – how much to pay a player who thinks he’s still in his prime but isn’t? Hopkins is demanding top-tier dollars, likely more than the $15 million grift Odell Beckham got the Baltimore Ravens into overpaying.

DEANDRE HOPKINS A QUITTER?

The final caveat: he quit on the team and didn’t play the final two games of the season when he was healthy. That’s not leadership; that’s selfishness, but some team will give him a shot.

HOPKINS, AS A CARDINAL

  • The Houston Texans traded Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson in 2020.
  • His Cardinals’ career totals were 221 receptions for 2,696 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons.
  • Hopkins’ best season came in 2020 when he caught 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
    • As a result, it selected him for the Pro Bowl.
    • It was a franchise record for season receptions with 115.
  • Hopkins’ salary for this season was $19.45 million, and the salary cap hit was $30.75 million.
  • Per reports, he won’t be cut after June 1, meaning the Cardinals will eat $22.6 million in dead money.

LIKELY REASON FOR RELEASE – PEDS, INJURIES, AND AGE

  • In 2021, he played only 10 games because of several leg injuries.
  • He did not play in the first six games of the 2022 NFL season because the NFL popped him for PEDs (steroids).
  • He caught 106 passes for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns in 19 games in his final two seasons.
  • Practice ethics? At 28, he began missing practices – not good leadership.
  • Even if legitimate, seeing someone so young taking “veterans” days off isn’t a good sign, showing a lack of leadership.
    • In fact, some reports are that he quit on the team as he was healthy for the season’s final two games.
  • The team couldn’t find a trade partner for several reasons, the most likely being paying him $20 million when he’s not worth that.

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WHAT IS DEANDRE HOPKINS LOOKING FOR

At his age, Hopkins’ priorities are:

  • Stable management,
  • a quarterback who loves the game,
  • and a great defense.
  • Unsaid in this interview, a massive payday.

Who is the quarterback he would like to play with?

  • Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
  • Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
  • Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

DEANDRE HOPKINS FUTURE – AN OVERVIEW

Hopkins, 31, will draw interest now that he is a free agent. The Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills are interested.

  • Realize his days as an elite wide receiver are over, and even more so once he got popped for PEDs, but despite that, he runs routes well, fights for, and rarely drops the ball.
    • Puzzling: no one wants to break down his history of PEDs.
  • While Hopkins was due $19.5 million this season, he won’t get that unless it’s an incentive-laden contract, but he’ll demand it.
    • Some say he will command Odell Beckham money – $15 million and reports are he wants big-time money.
      • The Ravens had to overpay Beckham to entice QB Lamar Jackson to re-sign.
        • Beckham’s not worth $15 million; only “fanboys” claim it.
      • That’s likely one reason teams wouldn’t trade for him: he’s already overpaid and would demand a new long-term contract.
    • We say, never say never because some terrible teams overpay for mediocrity and sell the farm for talent – see the Cleveland Browns and their perennial losing ways. They blow money to no avail.

CARDINALS FUTURE?

We know Hopkins has a cap hit of $22.6 million in dead money. In 2024, it’s off the books. Why is that important?

  • They have hired Jonathan Gannon as Arizona’s new head coach, and the team will surely rebuild.
  • General manager Monti Ossenfort and Gannon may consider eating salary cap hits now to prepare for the future.
  • Don’t forget that Kyler Murray (ACL) will miss a significant amount of the season.
    • In fact, the possibility of moving on from Murray is real.
    • By NFL standards, he’s an overpaid little man whose contract will eventually cripple this team.
  • With two top-five picks and cap space to sign other free agents, speculation suggests they’re rebuilding with a goal of 2024.
    • Caleb Williams and Marvin Harrison Jr. are already on fanboys’ wish lists.

Hopkins can be a difference-maker if he still has juice in the tank. His injuries, age, and PEDs suspension are massive red flags, but a team will take a shot at him. They’ll look at his hands, his route running, and whether true, state they need a veteran leader in the locker room.

If a team is a few (1-3) players away, this could work out, but it will cost whoever signs him because they’ll have to overpay. Hopkins may state he’s looking for a ring and not a payout. Still, those players went extinct before the salary cap took over. As New York Jets’ QB Aaron Rodgers and Oakland Raiders WR Davante Adams prove, words are nothing, but bling is everything!

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