The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly decided that they’d like to trade DeAndre Hopkins. Where could he end up in 2023 if he’s traded?
The Arizona Cardinals are in transition as a franchise. After four seasons with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury as the duo in the desert, Kingsbury was fired after a disappointing 2022 campaign that has them sitting with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Kingsbury wasn’t the only one, as the Cardinals canned general manager Steve Keim as well.
As the new search begins for Arizona, it sounds like Murray will have input in picking the next head coach, meaning a full reset is off the table. Still, there are rumors that superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins could seek a trade this offseason.
Hopkins has two more years on his deal and carries giant cap numbers on both. Arizona will likely look to extend Marquise Brown, especially after trading a first-round pick for him and his familiarity playing with Murray in college. The Cardinals also need to get big numbers off the books if they want to keep guys like Zach Allen and Byron Murphy for the long haul.
There will likely be plenty of suitors for Hopkins, even with the contract he carries for two years. He’s still in his peak as he draws closer to 31 years old, and would likely prefer to make a Super Bowl push rather than be part of what could be a longer Cardinals reload. Let’s look at some possibilities.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
There will be plenty of backlash to this, mostly because the Jaguars already traded for Calvin Ridley, who is set to join them in 2023. But why stop with Ridley, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones at receiver? This window for Trevor Lawrence is opening right now, and the Jaguars need a bit more to launch themselves into the Super Bowl contender tier in a loaded AFC. Hopkins would give Lawrence an elite jump ball winner and a dominant “X” receiver, something the Jaguars still lack. Hopkins and Ridley on the perimeter as two great separators, along with Kirk as an explosive slot, would make the Jaguars a nightmare to handle for secondaries.
2. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots were a lateral play gone wrong from the playoffs this season. There are clear changes that need to be made. They need a true offensive mind as their offensive coordinator, not castoff defensive/special teams guys coming back after being fired as head coaches. If the commitment to Mac Jones is real, and there’s belief that he can get back to where he was as a rookie (positive EPA/play, tops of the 2021 rookies), getting more talent outside is important. Hopkins is the dominant threat they need to push them back into playoff regulars.
3. Baltimore Ravens
There’s a lot going down in Baltimore this offseason. Will Lamar Jackson stay, or is the tag-and-trade the plan? Either way, they can’t just have Rashod Bateman and not much more at receiver in 2023. They must address it in the draft or trade for someone like DeAndre Hopkins. With Hopkins as the WR1 and “X” type, it should give Bateman the ability to capitalize on being a big play threat, as he’s proven with his efficiency metrics as a receiver thus far.
4. Buffalo Bills
This wouldn’t be shocking at all. The Bills could win it all this year, but the receiver room is being dragged along by the play of Stefon Diggs every week. Gabe Davis didn’t break out. Khalil Shakir isn’t getting enough opportunities. Just imagine Diggs and Hopkins on the same team for defenses to deal with every week. If Buffalo doesn’t hoist a Lombardi this year, doing whatever it takes to further push all-in should be on the table in the offseason.
5. Chicago Bears
DeAndre Hopkins probably wants to go to a contender if he’s traded, so the Chicago Bears are much lower on the list. But, they’ll have the cap space to easily get this done and whatever else they want to do in free agency. Justin Fields hasn’t progressed enough as a passer yet, and while much of it is on him, the receivers in Chicago aren’t good. Hopkins would immediately be a boost for Fields entering a crucial third season.
Wild Card: Tennessee Titans
Tennessee shouldn’t be here, we know this. But, Mike Vrabel probably won’t forego the commitment to a win-now philosophy, even with the current dire outlook. If Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are the move long-term, getting Hopkins to play with Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips would present a potential high-powered and balanced offense.