It was a typical Friday in spring, and then the Arizona Cardinals dropped a major news-bomb that propelled the NFL community into motion on May 26 — former three-time All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins is being released.
As everyone scrambled to react and make sense of this decision, a KC pitch from an ex-teammate of Hopkins quickly went viral on social media. New Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Charles Omenihu — who played together with Hopkins in Houston in 2019 — was the author, voicing: “You free now come on to the kingdom @DeAndreHopkins.”
The tweet has already surpassed 2,000 likes in about two hours’ time.
Chiefs Considered a Favorite to Land DeAndre Hopkins in Free Agency
After the news, uSTADIUM shared the current betting odds for Hopkins’ next team (via DraftKings Sportsbook). The Chiefs ranked second behind the AFC rival Buffalo Bills — who have been the favorite to land the star pass-catcher for most of the spring.
The difference in odds is +250 (Bills) compared to +400 (Chiefs) according to DraftKings, with the New York Jets (+550), Baltimore Ravens (+650) and New England Patriots (+800) rounding out the top five behind them.
Pro Football Focus also listed the Chiefs as one of five “preferred landing spots” for Hopkins based on his comments on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast on May 22. “We do know the five quarterbacks [Hopkins] would love to catch passes from, which he revealed during an appearance on the I AM ATHLETE podcast,” PFF writer Gordon McGuinness relayed. “They were: Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.”
On the Chiefs connection, McGuinness followed up: “The Chiefs still won the Super Bowl without a bona fide WR1 in Tyreek Hill, whom they traded away to the Miami Dolphins last offseason. However, it’s difficult to see Patrick Mahomes not being able to make some magic happen with someone like Hopkins on the field. Hopkins dropped just one of the 65 catchable passes thrown his way in 2022, while Mahomes dealt with 26 drops last season, tied for eighth most among quarterbacks.”
So, how will the dynamic wideout choose his new team in 2023? Per NFL insider Mike Giardi, Hopkins’ next destination may come down to financials.
“Buffalo has had interest. The Patriots have had interest,” Giardi informed. Best I can tell, no one believes he is what he once was, and that will be part of the challenge in acquiring the player. A couple of teams I spoke with before the draft believe $$$ will be the driver in this, more so than a ring.”
Cardinals Choose to Forfeit 2023 Cap Space in DeAndre Hopkins Release
If you’re wondering why the Cardinals front office didn’t just wait a few more days to cut Hopkins on June 1 — which would have altered his dead cap hits — NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero explained the decision after the reveal.
“It’s not a post-June 1 cut, so the Cardinals clear $7,388,890 in 2023 cap space — eating all $22.6M in dead money now — and DeAndre Hopkins will be off the books in 2024,” Pelissero noted, adding: “Arizona held out as long as it could but couldn’t trade Hopkins’ contract. Now he hits the open market.”
In a separate tweet, Pelissero also informed followers that “Arizona is also off the hook for $19.45 million cash this year” being that “Hopkins had no guaranteed money left on his deal.”
In other words, with one of the worst rosters statistically in 2022 and their starting quarterback (Kyler Murray) recovering from injury, the Cardinals are choosing to punt on the 2023 campaign — taking on the full dead money charge now so that they can start fresh in 2024.