DeAndre Hopkins Released by Arizona Cardinals, Becomes Top Free Agent Receiver
The Arizona Cardinals made a surprising move on May 26, 2023, when they released five-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Though Hopkins had been at the center of trade speculation this offseason, Arizona ultimately decided to forgo a potential deal and eat his $22.6 million dead cap hit for 2023. The decision to release Hopkins came as a shock to many fans, as the Cardinals had acquired him in a blockbuster trade just a few years prior. Despite this, Hopkins' release has put a superstar-caliber pass catcher on the market for receiver-needy teams like the Tennessee Titans.
Hopkins, who turns 31 this summer, is still considered one of the best receivers in the league. He is only a couple of seasons removed from putting up 1,407 yards and six touchdowns, and he averaged 79.7 yards per game last year. Additionally, in his 19 games over the last two seasons, he caught 106 passes for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite playing with backup quarterbacks for most of that stretch, QBs had a passer rating of 106.0 when targeting Hopkins, which ranks 11th in the NFL among qualified receivers.
As a free agent, Hopkins has already named five quarterbacks he would like to play with: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes II, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert. There are five quarterbacks who are young and talented, and who are on rosters that are in contention. These quarterbacks could potentially benefit from the inclusion of Hopkins. However, Hopkins has also expressed a desire to play for a team with a sound quarterback and roster, meaning that he is unlikely to go to a team without these factors at this point in his career.
Despite missing six games last season due to a suspension, Hopkins still finished the campaign with 64 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns. He has topped 1,000 receiving yards in six of his first 10 NFL seasons, including three campaigns of over 1,400 yards. In a recent interview, Hopkins named stable management upstairs, a quarterback who loves the game and brings everybody on board with him, and a great defense as the three things he is looking for in his next team.
Though there are teams that weren't initially inclined to take on Hopkins' full 2023 salary of $19.45M, some have since been willing to at least revisit Hopkins' availability and cost given his release. The Patriots, who previously checked in on Hopkins, are more likely to pursue him now that the contract isn't as much of a hurdle, per sources. While financial competition plays a role, it is important for New England to also express a certain degree of interest.
The Lions are actually the favorites to win the NFC North this upcoming season, something they haven't done since 1993. This wide receiving corps has a legitimate stud in Amon-Ra St. Brown, a prospective stud in Jameson Williams, and a couple of veterans in Josh Reynolds and Marvin Jones Jr. This group would become one of the most intriguing in the entire NFL with the inclusion of Hopkins. Meanwhile, the Cowboys and Jets are also potential destinations for Hopkins.
In summary, Hopkins' release from the Arizona Cardinals has put a superstar-caliber pass catcher on the market for receiver-needy teams. Despite turning 31 this summer, Hopkins is still considered one of the best receivers in the league and has expressed a desire to play for a team with stable management upstairs, a quarterback who loves the game and brings everybody on board with him, and a great defense. The Patriots, Lions, Cowboys, and Jets are all potential landing spots for Hopkins.
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1. “Why WR DeAndre Hopkins is (and isn't) a good fit with Tennessee Titans” Tennessean, 26 May. 2023, https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2023/05/26/deandre-hopkins-tennessee-titans-rumors-free-agent-wide-receiver-arizona-cardinals/70261858007/
2. “DeAndre Hopkins news could be disastrous for Packers” Lombardi Ave, 26 May. 2023, https://lombardiave.com/posts/deandre-hopkins-news-disastrous-packers
3. “Patriots showing interest as long-rumored wide receiver target hits free agency” 98.5 The Sports Hub, 26 May. 2023, https://985thesportshub.com/listicle/patriots-showing-interest-as-long-rumored-wide-receiver-target-hits-free-agency/
4. “DeAndre Hopkins landing spots: Bills, Chiefs, Lions among best NFL team fits for free-agent receiver” NFL.com, 26 May. 2023, https://www.nfl.com/news/deandre-hopkins-landing-spots-bills-chiefs-lions-among-best-nfl-team-fits-for-fr
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8. “DeAndre Hopkins released: These five dark-horse contenders have the cap space and team need to sign star WR” CBS Sports, 26 May. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/deandre-hopkins-released-these-five-dark-horse-contenders-have-the-cap-space-and-team-need-to-sign-star-wr/