The NFL world was stunned Friday when the Arizona Cardinals released star DeAndre Hopkins, less than three years after making him the league’s highest-paid receiver. After months of reported trade talks, the Cardinals were unable to reach an agreement and opted to save $8.9 million this offseason, while taking on $21 million in dead cap space.
With the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs emerging as the betting favorites to sign Hopkins, there is no shortage of potential landing spots for one of the NFL’s top wide receivers.
There are at least a handful of under-the-radar destinations that make sense for D-Hop, including the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. But we’ll focus on the two rookie teams who have the best chance to sign free agent DeAndre Hopkins—the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.
2. Detroit Lions
Despite missing six games last season due to a PED suspension and dealing with a game of musical chairs at quarterback, DeAndre Hopkins still hauled in 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns. Despite his age and recent injury history, D-Hope will provide a huge boost to the Lions’ roster, and will be a great addition to Ben Johnson’s offense.
In the absence of one of them Five QBs Hopkins said he wants to catch a pass, while Jared Goff is coming off the best year of his career, passing for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Detroit may not have all three things on Hopkins’ wish list right now, but the Lions are clearly trying to turn a defensive corner and the offense could be a potential Super Bowl sleeper out of the NFC.
Amon Ra-St. Brown, a massive 2021 fourth-round draft pick, has already proven to be one of the league’s top young receivers. The Lions made a big investment in the 2022 NFL Draft, jumping up 20 spots in the first round to take Jameson Williams with the 12th overall pick. It was the biggest trade for a receiver since the Atlanta Falcons traded for Julio Jones in 2011.
Williams missed most of last season recovering from a torn ACL and will miss the first six games of the 2023 season in violation of the league’s gambling policy. Why not take a page out of the playbook of the Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks and give Goff an embarrassment of riches to work with in the passing game?
The Lions have Khalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds as complimentary receivers who combined for 85 catches, 1,095 yards and three touchdowns last year. Detroit also brought back Marvin Jones Jr. on a one-year, $3 million contract. But he is 33 years old and does not offer much at this time.
With an estimated $23.7 million in cap space among their top 51 players, the Lions could make the biggest splash and sign DeAndre Hopkins.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Sitting 11th in projected cap space at $14.1 million, Dallas should have no problem freeing up the necessary cash to sign a star like Hopkins. A three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler, Hopkins is still worth the investment. In 10 NFL seasons, he hauled in 853 career receptions for 11,298 yards and 71 touchdowns.
Not really the Cowboys Desire Another starting wide receiver. CeeDee Lamb shined in the WR1 role last year, hauling in 107 catches for 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns. Brandin Cooks is coming off a down year in Houston, but the former 2014 first-round pick had over 1,000 yards in six of his previous seven seasons.
Michael Gallup is the top tight end on the Cowboys’ roster, but he’s been limited to a combined 74 receptions for 869 yards and six scores in 23 games over the past two injury-plagued seasons.
Injuries plague every team in the league every year, and surprisingly, the Cowboys don’t have another wide receiver on the depth chart who caught more than three passes last season.
Still adding arguably one of the NFL’s best linebackers Best hands in the leagueIt could be the Cowboys ticket to dethrone the Eagles as the best team in the division and conference.
While Cooks and Lamb split some of the slot duties, Hopkins is a reliable and flexible outside receiver who can do a ton of damage to franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. With 2022 fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson and rookie second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker leading an unproven group of tight ends, we could see the Cowboys run a good-sized 10 personnel, which maximizes the inconsistency of the Lamb, Cooks, Gallup fantasy. , and Hopkins on the field together.
Moreover, everyone knows that Jerry Jones likes to make amazing signings. Adding a star receiver like Hopkins could make the difference in the Cowboys’ embarrassment of riches at receiver and a deep playoff run.
Finances will be the biggest obstacle, but the same can be said for other interested teams that currently have less cap space, including the Eagles, Ravens, Patriots, Giants, Browns, Bills and Chiefs.