The New England Patriots and DeAndre Hopkins have been linked for much of the offseason, but nothing has transpired as of yet. The former All-Pro wide receiver remains under contract with the Arizona Cardinals, despite several teams rumored to express interest in potentially acquiring his services.
Thus far, however, the cost associated with bringing Hopkins aboard has been an issue — one that could force the Cardinals’ hand unless they want to keep him on their salary cap at $29.99 million.
“Some teams think they’re going to cut him — think the Cardinals are going to wind up cutting him,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said on a recent appearance on the Greg Bedard Podcast. “His market is not great right now, even for a team, say, like Kansas City. Kansas City would need him to take a significant pay cut. ... Clearly there’s nobody that was willing to take on the contract and pay the Cardinals’ initial price.”
Hopkins, 30, is coming off a productive season with the Arizona Cardinals. Despite missing eight games and effectively playing only four with Kyler Murray at quarterback, he still caught 64 passes for 717 yards and three touchdowns.
His 79.7 receiving yards per game ranked 10th in the NFL this season; in games with the Cardinals’ starting QB in the lineup, he averaged 96.3 yards — a number that would have ranked third in a league-wide comparison.
From that point of view, acquiring Hopkins would therefore make sense for the receiver-needy Patriots. That said, his age in combination with his contract and Arizona’s asking price has scared teams off. The Patriots, for example, have not “really been in on it,” as Breer pointed out.
“I know there’s at least one team that’s gotten permission to talk to Hopkins. To my knowledge that’s not been the Patriots yet,” he said. “I think that was a ‘no’ for a number of different reasons. I think it was a ‘no’ because of the financial cost, because of the draft pick cost — which, initially, the Cardinals were asking for a two and something else. It’s because of the practice thing. Obviously, he’s got the ‘attitude question’ in his history.
“But, if we’re talking about this being a reclamation project, where the price comes way down and he’s willing to redo his contract, that could be where you’re talking about something else.”
At the moment, questions about Hopkins remain. Him getting released would bring clarity on some of those, from a Patriots point of view, but create others: the situation would then turn into a free-for-all of sorts, with him being able to pick his team rather than Arizona finding a landing spot via trade.
The Patriots would still have the financial means to make it work, in that case. One does have to wonder, though, whether or not other teams — i.e. those with a seemingly clearer path to a Super Bowl — would be more attractive destinations for the wideout.