DeAndre Hopkins Landing Spots: Patriots, Colts, and Browns Should Trade For Cardinals Star Receiver

The Arizona Cardinals are open to trading WR DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. We're breaking down the five best fits and teams that should trade for him.

Get ready for a busy offseason that sees more stars trading franchises. The NFL rumor mill started as soon as the regular season came to a close, as the Arizona Cardinals are expected to make All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins available via trade. This isn’t surprising news considering the state of the Cardinals franchise.

With Kyler Murray likely to miss at least part of 2023, the Cardinals looking for a new general manager and head coach, cap-strapped after years of roster mismanagement, and a relatively poor set of foundational pieces, the Cardinals should be selling off veterans this offseason. They need to rebuild for 2024 and beyond, with Murray locked up on a long-term deal. Trading Hopkins would sting, but it’s the best time to maximize his value.

Value of DeAndre Hopkins Trade

His value may not be overly high despite his impressive talent. He turns 31 this offseason and will need a new contract for 2023 since he’s out of guaranteed money on his deal. A new deal can be advantageous for the team as well since they can spread out his massive cap numbers of $30.75 million in 2023 and $26.215 million in 2024.

Arizona might get a Day 2 pick out of Hopkins, or they could get a Day 3 pick as Dallas received for Amari Cooper last offseason. It’ll be a tough trade for Arizona to swallow, but they’d clear $8.15 million in 2023 and $14.9 million in 2024 with a trade prior to June 1, 2023.

Let’s dive into the five teams that should trade for the four-time Pro Bowler.

5 Teams That Should Trade for DeAndre Hopkins

New England Patriots

Simply put: the Patriots haven’t had a true star receiver since Randy Moss was on the roster from 2007-2009. New England was able to get by with quarterback Tom Brady elevating good but not great playmakers, but second-year quarterback Mac Jones hasn’t been able to attain the same feat. Jones needs help, and head coach Bill Belichick’s appreciation for Hopkins is no secret.

The timing is perfect for the Patriots to aggressively pursue offensive upgrades. They need a legitimate coordinator to revamp their benign offense first, but New England also has the ability to spend what’s necessary to surround Jones with more impactful pieces. That could include re-signing Jakobi Meyers and trading for Hopkins.

Hopkins is still a highly-effective player who figures to age well, given that his game is based on technique over explosiveness. He matched his career yards per game rate in the nine games he played in 2022 (he was suspended six games for PED usage). He also ranked sixth in dominator rating, fifth in total route win rate, seventh in win rate against man coverage, and fourth in target share.

He’s still a star, and his versatility to play from the slot or as an outside receiver is a critical piece of his value. With Hopkins added and Meyers retained, the Patriots could unveil a top-three receiver room that also prominently features Tyquan Thornton. That would be a much more suitable surrounding cast for Jones to develop with.

Indianapolis Colts

Another team that has for far too long avoided investing heavily in the receiving room is the Colts. General manager Chris Ballard tried to rely upon young talent and role players to become viable top playmakers, but it simply hasn’t worked out. Michael Pittman is a solid starter, but Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell aren’t consistent enough to count on.

Ballard is back for 2023 and he knows it’s time to win. One way to help their eventual new quarterback is to spend some of the money Indianapolis can create by releasing Matt Ryan and restructuring contracts. With a weak crop of free agent receivers, trading for Hopkins would make the offense more dynamic.

It would be a forward move from a regime that’s generally been averse to being so aggressive. However, the Colts have a team that seemed to lose its fire last year. Acquiring Hopkins would hurt their cap flexibility. But if they’re going to rely on a rookie quarterback, it’s better to invest in supporting playmakers while you can.

An offensive core of Hopkins, Pittman, and Jonathan Taylor is a formidable one if their defense and the offensive line can get back to the level we expected in 2022. This is a roster otherwise good enough to win the AFC South and become a bigger threat. But they need someone like Hopkins to round out their personnel.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns hit the jackpot when they rolled the dice on trading for Cooper last year, so why not go back to the expensive veteran receiver well? Hopkins isn’t an ideal fit based on normal roster-building techniques that lead to pigeonholed roles such as a designated deep-speed threat and shifty slot receiver. That’s not a bad option for Cleveland if they want to pinch pennies, but a trio with Cooper, Hopkins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones should be more tempting.

The Browns can go all-in on their foundational talent if they so choose. Simple restructures on the contracts of Deshaun Watson, Myles Garrett, Joel Bitonio, and Amari Cooper would give them almost $100 million in cap space. They shouldn’t need to be that aggressive to improve a roster that is solid, but that flexibility allows for one massive splash acquisition.

Receiver is certainly one of their needs. Head coach Kevin Stefanski needs to refresh his offense around Watson’s playmaking, which means spreading defenses out more than he has since taking over in Cleveland. For as well as Cooper and Peoples-Jones played, tight end and running backs made up their third through sixth most-targeted playmakers.

That’s not a modern offense that creates explosive plays through the air. It’d be fascinating to see Hopkins and Cooper complement each other as technicians with elite hands and route-running.

Baltimore Ravens

Everyone has been harping on the Ravens to acquire a star-level receiver for years. Despite this, the Ravens traded receiver Marquise Brown to the Cardinals for a first-round pick last year, then opted against bolstering the league’s weakest receiving room. It’s not a surprise their passing game again ranked amongst the least effective in the NFL, as Rashod Bateman missed 11 games.

The Ravens just handed linebacker Roquan Smith a $100 million deal, which opened cap room to franchise-tag star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Baltimore already has their hands full, considering they’re needing to maneuver a delicate contract situation with Jackson. One method they could use to sway him into signing long-term is to trade for Hopkins.

Baltimore has a lot of money tied up into their stars already, and this aging roster needs to purge some of its familiar faces. There’s enough money to get Hopkins despite new deals for Smith and Jackson, but it’ll further tie Baltimore to their top-heavy approach to roster building. I think it’s worthwhile considering what’s at stake for the Ravens.

We’ve seen their strategy of building an offense overly reliant on Jackson’s playmaking continue to fall short every season. They must evolve, or else Jackson will continue to get injured. Adding a dominant possession receiver like Hopkins is a terrific way to redefine the offense’s approach and push their ceiling far higher.

New York Giants

No team’s receiving room was as decimated by injuries as the Giants were this season. First-year head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka deserve a ton of credit for keeping the offense churning despite relying on unheralded pass-catchers like Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James. They’ve maximized players who were cast offs elsewhere and created a productive offense.

Giving quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley more help is a necessity. Hodgins looks like a legitimately good role player for 2023, and Wan’Dale Robinson figures to be back from injury next year. I’d like to see them retain veteran Darius Slayton as well since he proved to be a quality playmaker once again.

Hopkins would easily be the star of the offense and give both Daboll and Jones a completely different type of playmaker to work with. Daboll has experience working with speedy stars like Stefon Diggs, but he hasn’t worked with someone like Hopkins since he was the Dolphins offensive coordinator in 2011 with Brandon Marshall.

Marshall tallied 81 receptions for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns in their lone season together. That might be Hopkins’ upside at this point, but it’s still a massive improvement from the rotating set of names who played for the Giants this year.

The Giants have to take care of Jones and Barkley first but have enough money to also add Hopkins if they choose.

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