UNITED STATES: The Arizona Cardinals have released three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, creating an intriguing market for his services. Hopkins now has the freedom to choose his new team, and several top quarterbacks including Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert are considered front-runners in the race for his signature.
While the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills are among the leading contenders, are there any dark horses with sufficient resources? Let’s delve into that in more detail.
Here are five potential dark-horse candidates to sign Hopkins:
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are entering a new era with Aaron Rodgers sidelined, and they possess over $16.5 million in cap space. Adding Hopkins would greatly benefit young quarterback Jordan Love, and alongside Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, he would elevate their receiving corps. While the chances of Hopkins joining Green Bay may seem slim, our focus today is on sleepers, and the Packers could be in the mix given their available funds.
The Browns have already acquired Elijah Moore and Cedric Tillman, which reduces their immediate need for wide receivers. However, the front office is determined to solidify Deshaun Watson’s contract and not let it become a mere joke. Watson experienced a career-low average of 183.7 passing yards per game last season, finishing with a 3-3 record. Despite having only $7 million in cap space, the Browns represent an enticing option for Hopkins to consider.
The Jaguars are poised to become the dominant force in their division, and the potential suspension of Cam Robinson for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy could further weaken their receiving group. While Christian Kirk and Zay Jones are present, the addition of Hopkins would significantly bolster the offense and the team as a whole.
Head coach Doug Pederson aims to sustain Trevor Lawrence’s progress, introduce a seasoned wide receiver, and establish a tradition of consistently triumphing over the Houston Texans. Jacksonville boasts $12.26 million in cap space to potentially make this move.
The Lions are early favorites to contend for the NFC North title this year, with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds, and Marvin Jones Jr. comprising their current receiving corps. However, the addition of Hopkins would transform the Lions into an intriguing team. With $23.7 million in cap space, the Lions rank fourth in the NFL in terms of available funds. Furthermore, quarterback Jared Goff has shown improvement in his last nine games. It would be wise for the Lions to continue surrounding Goff with offensive weapons, and Hopkins fits that bill.
New England Patriots
Given Bill Belichick’s successful partnership with Tom Brady, it is plausible that the Patriots would pursue Hopkins, now that his contract is no longer an obstacle. New England possesses $14 million in cap room and could benefit from Hopkins’ physicality, sideline coordination, ball skills, and football intelligence.