DeAndre Hopkins Makes Feelings Known on Joining Browns

DeAndre Hopkins

Getty DeAndre Hopkins is open to landing with the Browns.

Former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is open to the idea of landing with the Cleveland Browns, although it may still be a longshot.

Hopkins was released by the Cardinals on May 26, bringing an end to his three-year stay with the team. The Cardinals had tried to find a trade partner for Hopkins but his hefty preexisting deal made it hard to find teams willing to make a move. Now that the former All-Pro pass-catcher is a free agent, he’s expected to have a handful of suitors, including the Browns.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Sunday’s SportsCenter that Hopkins would be open to landing with the Browns to play with his former quarterback Deshaun Watson but also noted Cleveland is “not considered a major contender.”

Fowler also listed the Browns as a “wild-card team” in the sweepstakes for Hopkins in an article on May 26.

“Hopkins has preexisting chemistry with Deshaun Watson — they played together in Houston from 2017 to 2019 — and pairing him with Amari Cooper would deepen the intrigue in the AFC North,” Fowler wrote. “Cleveland GM Andrew Berry has been very aggressive this offseason in bolstering the defense, and signing Hopkins would be a nod to maximizing Watson’s window.”

Deshaun Watson Maintains Friendship With DeAndre Hopkins

Landing Hopkins would propel the Browns’ offense to new heights, although there are clear hurdles to make it happen, specifically the money. Hopkins is 30 years old and will likely look to cash in at his next spot, even if it’s at a lower number than he was previously making in Arizona.

The Browns have just around $7 million of cap space left for this season but have multiple large contracts on the books for Watson, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and others that will make the coming seasons tight.

The one edge the Browns have in trying to lure Hopkins is Watson, who still maintains a relationship with his former top pass-catcher from their days in Houston.

“It just really depends on if (the Browns are) serious or not as far as kind of like if we can really get him, so that’s something that you’ve got to be able to look at overall — cap space, pay, different things like that,” Watson said on “The Q with Quincy Avery” in February. ”Once you kind of know, you just kind of communicate with him, nothing too serious.

“Me and D-Hop have been friends for awhile so we’re … we’re gonna chop it up and see where things kind of hold for us. But nothing’s guaranteed and you just kind of let it flow from there.”

Browns Confident in Pass-Catching Depth After Upgrades

The Browns added some new weapons for Watson this offseason, trading for Elijah Moore while also adding Marquise Goodwin in free agency and Cedrick Tillman through the draft.

Cleveland also picked up tight end Jordan Akins, who played with Watson previously in Houston. Despite the Texans’ unstable quarterback situation last season, Akins caught 37 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns. He’s excited to be able to link back up with Watson.

“Just the chemistry that we had. I want to pick up where we left off in Houston,” Akins said on May 24. “Deshaun, we had great chemistry, like I said, and I like the way he plays a game. The play is always alive when he’s on the field. And I love to play with a quarterback like that.”

Watson is looking to rebound from a sub-par six-game showing last season. The Browns went 3-3 in his starts and Watson completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

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