Za’Darius Smith Kicks Off Browns’ DeAndre Hopkins Recruiting Effort

DeAndre Hopkins

Getty Free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Cleveland Browns have already started their recruiting efforts in an effort to get DeAndre Hopkins to join the Dawg Pound.

Hopkins was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, bringing an end his three-year stay with the team. The Cardinals had tried to trade Hopkins but didn’t get any suitable deals. The former All-Pro accounted for a $30.75 million cap hit — the highest in the NFL at the receiver position. The Cardinals will also be without quarterback Kyler Murray for a chunk of next season as he recovers from ACL surgery, making it somewhat illogical for them to spend that kind of money on a receiver.

With no contract attached, Hopkins will have a number of suitors, and the Browns could be among the teams that jump into the mix. Hopkins had some of the best years of his career with current Browns QB Deshaun Watson as his quarterback in Houston and the team could look to rekindle that connection.

New Browns pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith is behind that and sent a message to let him know he’s wanted in Cleveland. Hopkins put up a post thanking the Cardinals for his time there and Smith responded with just two symbols — a dog and the eyeballs emoji.

The tweet was highly well-received by Browns fans in the comments.

Talk to him Z, DAWGZ BELONG IN DA DAWGPOUND,” one comment read.

Another wrote: “Already recruiting. I love it.”

Browns Signing DeAndre Hopkins Dubbed ‘Unlikely’ by Insider

The Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots have been the teams mentioned as suitors for Hopkins, although the market might shift a bit now with him free to sign with any team.

It’ll come down to what Hopkins desires and that’s likely money for the 30-year-old pass-catcher who will have limited opportunities left to cash in.

Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of dubbed the Browns picking up Hopkins as “unlikely for a number of reasons, but can’t be completely ruled out.”

“The reason one can never say never in these situations is because Hopkins’ market might not be what he hopes at this point in the offseason, and because the Browns can always scrape together a few pennies even though they’re currently near the bottom of the league in cap space. They’ll also have more money after June 1 when John Johnson III and Jadeveon Clowney come off the books.

Deshaun Watson Spoke to DeAndre Hopkins This Offseason

The relationship between Watson and Hopkins is the trump card the Browns hold. Watson said earlier this offseason that he was set to meet up with his former top pass-catcher and would discuss the possibility. But he also acknowledged that there were logistics that the team would have to deal with.

“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.”

The team acquired Elijah Moore this offseason via trade to bolster their receiver corps alongside Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, veteran newcomer Marquise Goodwin and others. But adding Hopkins to the mix would be a massive addition to the unit.

Hopkins played in just nine games last season with the Cardinals due to a PED suspension and injury, collecting 717 yards on 64 grabs with three touchdowns. But he has three First-Team All-Pro selections on his resume and five Pro Bowls. In his last full season in 2020, Hopkins caught 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.

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