DeAndre Hopkins landing spots: Bills, Cowboys among best fits as former Cardinals WR hits free agency

DeAndre Hopkins landing spots: Bills, Cowboys among best fits as former Cardinals WR hits free agency
DeAndre Hopkins landing spots: Bills, Cowboys among best fits as former Cardinals WR hits free agency

The Arizona Cardinals are in the first phase of a rebuild this offseason. They parted ways with both head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim in the wake of a 4-13 finish, replacing them with former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and former Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, respectively. Safety and top defensive leader Budda Baker demanded a trade in the event the Cardinals don't make him the highest-paid player at his position. 

Then on Friday, the Cardinals released three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a player who was reportedly granted permission to seek trades and was reportedly almost dealt during the 2023 NFL Draft. Earlier in the week, he had gone on the " target="_blank""" target="_blank"I AM ATHLETE" podcast and listed some qualities he's looking for wherever he ends up next. The attributes aligned with what contending teams in the NFL possess, not a team like the Cardinals.

"What I want is stable management upstairs," Hopkins said. "I think that's something I haven't really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston and then to Arizona. I've been through three or four GMs in my career, so a stable management. A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but everybody around him. ... And a great defense. A great defense wins championships."

While the receiver's requests appear to be a scathing indictment of the Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray, Hopkins clarified his belief in Murray, saying the 25-year-old does love the game. He also said Arizona is "in good hands" with Ossenfort as their general manager, but he's not thrilled about Murray likely missing a good chunk of the first half of the 2023 season while recovering from a torn ACL. The next man up in Arizona is journeyman Colt McCoy, who turns 37 on Sept. 5. Hopkins said he loves McCoy, but that's not quite the caliber of quarterback he's looking to play with in 2023.

"[I] currently [don't] have a Pro Bowl quarterback or a quarterback who I would say could," Hopkins said when addressing the Cardinals quarterback situation entering the season.

Hopkins remains one of the NFL's most productive pass-catchers when healthy, as he led Arizona with 717 receiving yards despite playing just nine games last season. But the 30-year-old Pro Bowler has missed a combined 15 games since 2021, and is due $30.8 million in 2023 -- more than any receiver except the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill. In order to maintain a high-level of output into his 30s, Hopkins listed some of the NFL's top young quarterbacks when asked who he would like to catch passes from going forward as he hits the back half of his career. 

"One of my favorite quarterbacks I've been watching since he came in the league is [Buffalo Bills QB] Josh Allen," Hopkins said. "He reminds me of a new-school Andrew Luck. I love Josh Allen. [Philadelphia Eagles QB] Jalen Hurts, he's a Houston kid, and he's a dog.

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