This year’s wide receiver free-agent class has not generated much buzz, and the Bengals and Chargers have respectively indicated Tee Higgins and Keenan Allen are not available. This stands to elevate the markets for the receivers teams do put on the trade block. This will affect the Cardinals.
Arizona may be far down the road on a Hopkins trade. The Cards have the parameters of a trade in place, according to veteran NFL reporter Mike Jurecki (on Twitter). The Cards should be expected to receive a second-round pick and either a conditional draft choice in an unspecified round or an additional player, Jurecki adds.
Hopkins, 30, has been rumored to be on the move for a bit now. The Cardinals have gone through with a staff overhaul, hiring a new GM (Monti Ossenfort) and head coach (Jonathan Gannon). Ossenfort has spoken with Hopkins, and trade interest has begun to re-emerge. The Cards have fielded calls on their top wideout. Gannon stopped short of guaranteeing Hopkins would be a Cardinal in 2023. Hopkins and Brandin Cooks are viewed as the top trade pieces at the receiver position for the time being, but last year illustrated the market can certainly change.
The six-game PED suspension Hopkins incurred last year voided the no-trade clause in his Cardinals extension. Two years remain on that contract, which was agreed to shortly after the Cards acquired Hopkins from the Texans in 2020. Although the Cards rebuffed inquiries about Hopkins’ availability ahead of the 2022 trade deadline, the 10-year veteran’s name has been on the block since January.
A team that acquires Hopkins may well need to complete another contract. He is set to earn $19.45M in base salary. While the former All-Pro’s current cap number ($30.75M) would not transfer over to his next team, the base salary would be the acquiring team’s responsibility. Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and A.J. Brown agreed to new deals upon being traded last year, and the Browns restructured Amari Cooper‘s contract not long after landing him.
Hopkins ripped off three straight First-Team All-Pro seasons in the late 2010s. Despite the most recent one coming in 2019, the Texans traded him to the Cards in March 2020 — in a widely panned deal that did not send Houston a first-round pick. It would, then, be interesting if the Cardinals managed to fetch a second for Hopkins given the downward trend of the past two seasons. Hopkins suffered multiple injuries that ended his 2021 campaign early, and after the PED ban sidetracked his 2022 slate, the 10-year veteran suffered a minor injury that shut him down near the end of Arizona’s dreadful campaign.
A wideout market topped by the likes of Jakobi Meyers and JuJu Smith-Schuster, along with Odell Beckham Jr. coming off a missed season, should create opportunities for the Cardinals and Texans regarding Hopkins and Cooks. Although Hopkins only played in nine games last season, his 79.2-yard per-game average far outpaced his 2021 number. He posted a 1,407-yard season in 2020, when he played 16 games. While Hopkins’ stock has dropped, it is not hard to imagine a receiver-needy team betting on him to bounce back. The move would help a Cardinals squad that looks to be begrudgingly, after extending both Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim a year ago, committing to a rebuild.