A big name will hit the free agent market after Memorial Day Weekend as the Arizona Cardinals announced yesterday they had released DeAndre Hopkins. While it may seem surprising on the surface it makes sense. The Cards have been trying to trade Hopkins all offseason because he was owed lot of money in the final year of his contract in 2023 and are in no position to compete after Kyler Murray tore his ACL late in the 2022 season. He did not fit in with the roster and what the franchise was trying to accomplish in the short-term. His contract was too big to get traded. So he'll be a free agent next week once the move is officially processed by the league.
There will be some interest, but maybe not as much as you'd expect for a former All-Pro. Hopkins did put up 717 yards on 64 catches in only nine games last year. But he missed the first six games of the season due to a PED suspension and missed the final two with another injury. Early reports also suggest that Hopkins is more interested in getting paid than ring-chasing, which lowers the possibility of him being an impact signing considerably.
All that said, Hopkins still has the best hands in the NFL and can be very useful to his team when he does manage to stay on the field. Here are a few possible landing spots for Hopkins.
New England Patriots
The Patriots represent the ideal combination of need and ability to cut a large check that any and all Hopkins suitors will need. They did nothing to revamp their receiving corps after last year's pathetic offensive showing, replacing Jakobi Meyers with JuJu Smith-Schuster and only investing extremely late draft picks into the position. Hopkins is no longer one of the league's top receivers but he'd be a valuable safety blanket for Mac Jones and it is very important to the Pats' short- and long-term future that Jones does well this season.
The primary reason to believe this will not happen is quite simple. New England hired Bill O'Brien to be their new offensive coordinator and clearly consider him to be the significant addition to the offense for this season. O'Brien is the guy who traded Hopkins for pennies on the dollar because there was reportedly some personal beef between the two parties. If both sides can get over that, then this makes sense.
The Bills are being brought up as a Hopkins destination because they're contenders and contenders always load up on veterans who want to win. It helps that Hopkins named Josh Allen as one of the five QBs he'd love to catch passes from in a podcast last week. Buffalo is still a little thin at wideout, too, so there are a lot of pieces that fit.
The one piece missing is the money. The Bills have barely over $1 million left in cap space. They'd need to move a lot around in order to get Hopkins to even an Odell Beckham Jr.-level contract. There's more of an opportunity to catch footballs with the Bills compared to some other potential contenders but this only happens if Hopkins just wants to win games.
This is an interesting place for Hopkins to land. The Lions could use some reinforcements in the wideout room after Jameson Williams got hit with a six-game suspension for gambling. They have $17 million in cap space to work with right now so they could probably outbid most of the other suitors. And of the teams with over $10 million in cap space Detroit is probably the best set up to win this season, which theoretically gives Hopkins everything he's looking for.
The Lions just might not be interested. At least publicly they've put a notably strong emphasis on adding guys to the locker room that fit their culture and Hopkins is basically a mercenary right now, which isn't a bad thing but not really Detroit's vibe under Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes. Talent tends to speak louder than words, though, so we'll see.