The Arizona Cardinals are getting a makeover this offseason.
The latest major move for the team is a bombshell as it announced the release of superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has been the subject of trade speculation for much of the offseason.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the move is not considered a post-June 1 designation. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network noted the financial implications of the move:
Hopkins posted a farewell note to Arizona on social media:
The Cardinals had already fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury this offseason, replacing him with former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. General manager Steve Keim also stepped down, with Monti Ossenfort taking his place. Superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt retired. And now, in arguably the biggest move of them all, the Cardinals have cut Hopkins altogether.
The 30-year-old had another strong season in 2022, catching 64 passes for 717 yards and three touchdowns in just nine games. He missed the team’s first six games after being suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy and the last two of the season with a knee injury.
The five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro selection also didn’t always have Kyler Murray throwing him passes following his return from suspension, as the starting quarterback dealt with a hamstring injury in November and was ultimately lost for the season in December due to an ACL tear.
Still, Hopkins was excellent when he did play and gave Arizona a dangerous one-two combination at wideout alongside Marquise Brown.
But in January, The Score’s Jordan Schultz reported that owner Michael Bidwill planned to float the idea of moving Hopkins in a trade with potential general manager candidates.
Perhaps Bidwill was partially motivated after Hopkins was the “subject of a flurry of trade calls” before the NFL’s trade deadline in early November, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Per that report: “Keim was unwilling to move Hopkins. What’s unclear is if Keim wasn’t doing a deal at any price or if teams simply didn’t meet his price.”
Hopkins said last week on I AM ATHLETE that he knew of interest from the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
In the end, Hopkins’ contract may have been a dealbreaker. He carried salary-cap hits of $30.8 million in 2023 and $26.2 million in 2024.
There’s little chance Hopkins will be able to get that kind of money on the open market. He might use Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract with the Baltimore Ravens as a rough framework. Beckham will collect at least $13.9 million from Baltimore and can earn up to $18 million for one year.
As much as the Hopkins trade saga dragged on, his market could accelerate rather quickly now that he’s a free agent.