The Arizona Cardinals released five-time All-Pro Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Friday after three seasons with the team. Hopkins had been in trade rumors for several months as the organization was looking to move him due to his large contract. After being unable to find a trade partner, it was believed that Hopkins would remain in Arizona for next season. The Cardinals will take on $22.6 million in dead cap after the move but were able to create just over $8 million in cap space. With a few contenders and fringe playoff teams in need of a talented Wide Receiver, the former Cardinal and Texan will have multiple teams competing to add him to their roster. As we anticipate where DeAndre Hopkins will sign, here are the top five potential landing spots for the future Hall-of-Famer.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are coming off another Super Bowl victory, but are slim at the receiver position heading into this season. They still have the best Tight End in the NFL with Travis Kelce, but lost their number one Wide Receiver this offseason in free agency, JuJu Smith-Schuster. Along with the departure of Smith-Schuster, former second-round selection Mecole Hardman signed with the Jets. Kansas City addressed the position somewhat by signing Richie James and drafting Rashee Rice in the second round of the 2023 Draft, but they could still use additional talent and depth. The Chiefs’ current Wide Receiver depth chart is led by: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore. Valdes-Scantling was an impact player for Kansas City a year ago, but then rookie Skyy Moore was only targeted 33 times. Furthermore, mid-season acquisition Kadarius Toney was only targeted 17 times. Both Toney and Moore are talented enough to produce for the Chiefs' passing offense but haven’t been given the opportunities to prove their reliability just yet. Hopkins would instantly be the number one wideout for this team and the number two option in general, behind Kelce. The issue is the team has minimal cap space ($1.6 million), making a potential signing of Hopkins very difficult. The organization would likely have to restructure existing contracts or move some players around to make room for the All-Pro.
2. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a team that has been linked to Hopkins for quite some time now, going back to when he was originally in trade rumors months ago. Buffalo has had some trouble finding a reliable target outside of All-Pro Stefon Diggs. Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, and others have shown flashes, but nobody has had consistent production to set themselves apart. After Diggs’ team-leading 108 receptions last season, the next closest receiving options for the Bills recorded: 48 receptions (Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox) and 42 receptions (Isaiah McKenzie). The Bills let McKenzie sign elsewhere in free agency and used their 2023 first-rounder on Tight End, Dalton Kincaid, suggesting that Knox’s role will start to dwindle this year. A duo of Diggs and Hopkins would be nearly unstoppable for opposing defenses and would allow the Bills' offense to become even more explosive. Adding a player like Hopkins could elevate Josh Allen’s game even further as well (even though he’s already a perennial MVP candidate). The Bills seem to be in the midst of their Super Bowl window and acquiring DeAndre Hopkins could finally get them over the hump. Buffalo will have to jump through some hoops to sign him though, as the team has just over $2 million in cap space ($2.4 M).
3. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is another team that has really struggled to bring in talent at Wide Receiver and provide weapons in the passing game for Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have expended several draft picks, including first-rounders, on receivers in the past few years and have had mixed success. After finally settling the two-year-long contract debate with Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are under pressure to find weapons for him. They started by signing free agent Odell Beckham Jr. and then selected Zay Flowers in the first round of the 2023 Draft. Those two along with 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman and All-Pro Tight End Mark Andrews, will headline the receiving options for the Ravens next year. The only problems are that: Bateman has played in 19 games in his two NFL seasons, Beckham Jr. hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in Super Bowl LVI (February of 2021), and Flowers is a rookie. The group has plenty of talent to lead Baltimore to a deep playoff run, but they’re unproven as individuals–other than OBJ–and have health concerns. DeAndre Hopkins would be the best receiver on the team from day one and would be the final piece for Baltimore’s puzzle of adding weapons for Lamar Jackson. It’s also been known that Jackson wanted the Ravens to bring in both Beckham Jr. and Hopkins. The organization has just over $11 million in cap space which could be just enough to make the signing.
4. New England Patriots
The Pats are one of the many teams that have been involved in rumors around Hopkins since he became available months ago. They also have been very active in looking for receiving talent for young QB Mac Jones. New England signed former Chief and Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster during free agency on a three-year deal but was unable to retain Jakobi Meyers–who led the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns last season–or Nelson Agholor. The team is in dire need of a top receiving threat if they want to elevate Mac Jones’ game and their offensive ability. Bill Belichick has coached several star wideouts in his tenure (Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, etc.) and Hopkins could be the latest addition to the list. The organization has around $14 million in cap space to work with, which should be enough to potentially sign DeAndre Hopkins. However, one thing that could prevent Hopkins from joining the Patriots is their Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien. O’Brien was Hopkins’ head coach in Houston for many years, and the two had an interesting relationship, to say the least. The Star wideout even said to Sports Illustrated that “There was no relationship” with O'Brien when he was playing for him.
5. Detroit Lions
Detroit had one of the league’s best offenses a season ago and now looks to be all-in on Jared Goff as their QB, and Amon-Ra St. Brown as their Wide Receiver one. Although the Lions just missed the playoffs, they have great momentum going into this year by winning five of their last six, and eight of their last ten regular season games in 2022. However, a slew of off-season suspensions has put a slight damper on the excitement and expectations of this team. Several players were suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policy during the offseason, including 2022 first-rounder Jameson Williams. Williams will miss the first six games of 2023, which is disappointing for a player who was finally supposed to be fully healthy (Williams tore his ACL late in his final year of college) and become a key contributor to his team’s offense. Detroit also lost their third-leading wideout DJ Chark in the offseason and traded Pro-Bowl Tight End TJ Hockenson at the trade deadline in 2022. However, they brought back long-time Lion Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency and will still have number-two receiver Kalif Raymond on the roster this season. But with Williams suspended six games, and only one elite weapon on the team, Hopkins would be a perfect fit for the Lions. St. Brown and DeAndre Hopkins opposite of each other would be a difficult duo to contain for NFC North defenses, and the passing attack will become even more lethal once Williams returns from his suspension in week seven. Detroit has nearly $24 million in cap space ($23.7 M) which should be more than enough to get Hopkins under contract. It may feel far-fetched as of now, but the Lions should be a team participating in the DeAndre Hopkins sweepstakes.
*All stats were received from ESPN Stats & Info. Department