Rumors have connected the soon-to-be 31-year-old wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to several teams since the Arizona Cardinals released the five-time All-Pro. But the rumors that Hopkins could land with the Detroit Lions appear to be picking up steam.
In fact, Fox Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe not only linked Hopkins to the Lions on May 29 but called Detroit a ‘natural fit’ and ‘the most logical spot’ for the recently released star.
“I know a team that has got a pretty good offense that played really well last year and has $24 million under the cap, and that’s the Detroit Lions,” Sharpe said on his show Undisputed. “Plus, Jameson Williams is going to miss the first six games of the season. So it seems like that’s the natural fit.
“I don’t see one of those teams [the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs] making it happen. I think Detroit seems to me the most logical spot.”
Hopkins posted 64 receptions for 717 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cardinals last season. He has made five All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls during his 10-year career.
From 2017-19, Hopkins made first-team All-Pro every season.
He will turn 31 on June 6.
Sharpe Among Several Analysts Linking Lions to WR DeAndre Hopkins
The Hall of Fame tight end wasn’t the first analyst to suggest the Lions as a fit for Hopkins.
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin mentioned the Lions as a possible landing spot for the receiver even before the Cardinals released him. Then after his release, Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame listed the Lions among five teams that were the best landing spots for Hopkins.
Verderame’s top reason for Hopkins fitting in Detroit was the same as Sharpe’s — Jameson Williams suspension. The second-year wideout will miss the first six games of 2023 because of a gambling violation.
“Unfortunately for Motown, second-year receiver Jameson Williams is suspended for six games after violating the NFL’s gambling policy,” wrote Verderame.
“All this opens the door for Hopkins, who would make an ideal running mate for Amon-Ra St. Brown. Once Williams returns, the Lions would then have a speedy, dynamic trio on the fast, indoor surface of Ford Field.
“Finally, Detroit has the cap space, sitting at $23.7 million.”
The Athletic’s Colton Pouncey didn’t advocate for the Lions to sign Hopkins as Benjamin and Verderame did. But Pouncey did consider the pros and cons.
Like Benjamin and Verderame, Pouncey argued Williams’ suspension makes Hopkins a viable option for Detroit. But Pouncey also argued that Hopkins’ experience could be useful for the Lions offense even after Williams returns.
“Even when healthy and available, the 2023 season will still be a year of growth for Williams, considering the time he missed as a rookie,” Pouncey wrote. “He’s not a finished product yet.
“That’s where Hopkins can help — and then some.”
Pros & Cons to Lions Potentially Signing Hopkins
Hopkins doesn’t have the speed Williams does, especially at this point in his career. So he’s not a direct replacement for the suspended wideout. Hopkins is also three years removed from his last Pro Bowl and 1,000-yard campaign.
But in an offense such as Detroit’s, he wouldn’t have to be the top target. Instead, he’d be a very dangerous No. 2 receiver behind Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Hopkins paired with Marvin Jones Jr. and Josh Reynolds as secondary receiver weapons for quarterback Jared Goff would make the Lions passing game very dangerous on paper.
With Hopkins, there also would be less pressure on Williams making an impact immediately upon returning after six weeks off.
Signing Hopkins, though, doesn’t come without some cons.
He’s on the wrong side of 30 and hasn’t played a full season since 2020. Last season, he missed six games because of his own suspension (for PEDs) and then two contests due to injury.
Hopkins could also potentially stunt Williams’ growth in 2023.
Yes, the Lions should be interested in adding receiver depth for the first month and a half of the season to help navigate Williams’ suspension. But in a perfect world, the team doesn’t want to add a wideout who will take away playing time from the former No. 12 overall pick after Week 6.
Hopkins’ star power would demand he gets snaps regardless of who else his team has at wideout.
The good news is these concerns will likely be minimized because of Hopkins’ release. The Lions no longer have to trade for the receiver and could sign him to a one-year deal to diminish the risk.