If the Buffalo Bills are able to land star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they may have to beat out a top AFC rival.
The Bills have been pegged as a top contender for Hopkins since he was officially released by the Arizona Cardinals on May 26. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said in a May 29 appearance on ESPN Radio that the Bills are still a frontrunner, but could be facing an equally motivated Kansas City Chiefs team.
“My money would still be on the Bills or the Chiefs working something out,” he said. “I still suspect that you have two contenders in the AFC that are sort of trying to combat each other, make sure one doesn’t get Hopkins over the other, so it’s a little bit of an arms race there.”
Bills Seen as Frontrunner for Pro Bowl Receiver
Fowler reported that teams around the league believe the Bills are in the lead for Hopkins, just as they had been when he was on the trade block.
“When you talk to other NFL teams, they believe the Bills are a threat here and have been for a while,” he said.
The Chiefs are also in the hunt, but Fowler reported that they may not be as motivated as the Bills.
“I don’t get the sense that they’re overly desperate to make this happen, but there’s certainly some interest,” Fowler said.
Both teams had pursued Hopkins in the past, the NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported. The insider noted that the AFC rivals were the only teams that held “substantive” talks with the Cardinals while Hopkins was on the trade block.
Hopkins could be a top receiving option should he join the Bills. Though he missed the first six games last season while serving a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, Hopkins still managed to make 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bills had a strong season from top receiver Stefon Diggs, but at times struggled to find another consistent receiving option. Third-year receiver Gabe Davis played through an ankle injury that general manager Brandon Beane said impacted him throughout the season, and tight end Dawson Knox saw a drop in production from his breakout season in 2021.
Bills Could Face Salary Crunch
Fowler admitted that the Bills would face a big challenge in finding a contract price for Hopkins that matches their tight salary cap. As the Buffalo News noted, the Bills currently have close to $3.2 million in available cap space, but have some potential moves they could use to free up more space.
“But the Bills still have some levers to pull, including restructuring the contracts of tackle Dion Dawkins and cornerback Tre’Davious White,” the report noted. “That would push money down the line, which Brandon Beane has been reluctant to do at times. White would represent about $5.8 million and Dawkins could be up to $6.4 million, depending on the use of voidable years. Ryan Bates and Taron Johnson also could be restructure candidates.”
The Bills already used some cap-saving moves earlier in the offseason, including contract restructures for Josh Allen and Von Miller. The moves freed up close to $32 million that was used in free agency.