It’s no secret that DeAndre Hopkins’ time with Arizona could be numbered. After previously saying he would never expect to get traded, Hopkins was stunningly dealt from the Houston Texans to the Cardinals in 2020. This time around, Hopkins understands it’s a business and he could be moved, and he’s keeping up to date with all the trade rumors surrounding him.
Although there’s no doubt Hopkins is still an excellent wide receiver in the National Football League, his hefty salary hamstrings Arizona from building out a competitive roster over the next few years. And at 30 years old, it’s likely that the South Carolina natives best days are behind him.
With multiple teams rumored to be interested in the wideout, it’s time for the Arizona Cardinals to take the best offer, and DeAndre Hopkins is the perfect NFL trade the Cardinals must make before the 2023 season.
Time to trade DeAndre Hopkins
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Cardinals during the NFL Annual Meetings in Phoenix, AZ last week was the status of Hopkins. The Cardinals have three options, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss: trade him, keep him or release him as a post-June 1 designation.
He’s set to make $30.75 million in 2023; that’s not only the highest on the team, and among wide receivers in the NFL, but also the seventh highest in the league among all positions.
That’s something that just isn’t at all viable for a rebuilding team like the Cardinals. If they can get a decent haul of draft picks for Hopkins, and get his cap hit off the books, they’ll be in much better shape to close the rebuild window much sooner.
“As of now, the Cardinals are set to take on Hopkins’ $30.75 million cap hit in 2023, which would be a major blow to their ability to build out their roster in ways that would make them competitive,” wrote Weinfuss. “Moving him or releasing him would give them more cap freedom, which could, potentially, help them add players in the long run.”
The Salary Cap question
Even if the Cardinals trade Hopkins, they will still be left with $22.6 million in dead money, saving them $8.15 million in cap space. If they were to release him as a post-June 1 release, it would save the team $19.45 million in cap space. But the latter means the team won’t get anything in return, and draft picks are extremely valuable for a retooling squad.
It just doesn’t make sense to get nothing in return for a receiver who ranks No. 7 in receiving yards over the past five seasons at 5,433. Trading him and taking on the money for one season is not a worst case scenario, especially if draft picks are involved.
That being said, Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon expects Hopkins to be on the team next year, and gave the 30-year-old a huge vote of confidence on Tuesday.
“He’s just a unique player,” Gannon explained. “He can win one-on-one over and over and over, so you gotta account for that as a defense. And, then, from an offensive perspective, if he’s singled out there, you can throw it out there to him and he could probably win most of those one-on-ones. So, [a] very valuable asset for us.”
Even with the high praise from Gannon, general manager Monti Ossenfort said he “had a conversation with DeAndre and DeAndre’s representatives” when asked about a potential trade at the scouting combine last month, per ESPN.
The Cardinals have given teams permission to talk with Hopkins about a trade, with the New England Patriots continuing to surface. They just dealt Jakobi Meyers and could be a great landing spot for the veteran. But what would the return look like?
What could Hopkins fetch?
A first-round pick would be a dream return for DeAndre Hopkins, but it seems like that is out of the question based on the wide receiver market this year. Elijah Moore fetched a third-round pick from the Cleveland Browns and Houston sent Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2023 fifth and a 2024 sixth. Although the Panthers sent DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears for two first-round picks and two second-round picks, that also involved the No. 1 overall pick.
If the Cardinals could get a second-rounder, or multiple third-round picks, it would probably be enough based on the WR market this year. If they could get a young roster player back as well, that would be even better.
The bottom line is, Hopkins is an excellent receiver, but he’s too expensive and doesn’t make sense on a rebuilding team. It’s time for Arizona to take the best offer and look to the future with a younger and more inexpensive team in 2023.
The post 1 perfect NFL trade Cardinals must complete in 2023 offseason appeared first on ClutchPoints.