DeAndre Hopkins’ era with the Arizona Cardinals is over and the team could suffer a costly breakup.
The Cardinals cut the three-time All-Pro receiver to free up cap space Friday after they couldn’t find a team to deal him with.
Arizona made the decision three seasons after they acquired Hopkins in an all-star trade with Houston and eventually signed a $54.5 million contract extension through 2024. The 31-year-old would have cost them about $31 million. dollars in maximum salary this season.
The dead money limit of the salary cap is 22.6 million. The good news for the Cardinals is that it won’t count until 2024, when the team could be competitive again.
Hopkins who is still one of the best receivers in the NFL when healthy can sign with any team. With 11,298 career yards he ranks 36th in league history.
Arizona is rebuilding under new coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort and keeping Hopkins’ expensive contract didn’t make sense, especially since franchise quarterback Kyler Murray will miss part of the season while he recovers from a knee injury.
His cap hit in dead money is $22.6 million. The good news for the Cardinals is he’ll be off the books for 2024, when the team figures to be more competitive.
Hopkins still one of the NFL’s elite receivers when healthy — is free to sign with any team. His 11,298 career yards receiving already rank 36th in league history.
Arizona is rebuilding under new head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort and keeping Hopkins’ expensive contract didn’t make much sense, particularly because franchise quarterback Kyler Murray is likely to miss part of the upcoming season while recovering from a knee injury.
The Cardinals tried for months to trade Hopkins, but his expensive contract made that difficult.
Hopkins had 221 catches for 2,696 yards and 17 touchdowns in 35 games with Arizona. His most famous catch was a last-second heave from Murray in the end zone against the Buffalo Bills in 2020 that became known as “Hail Murray.”
His 2020 season was his best in the desert. He caught a franchise-record 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
For a few months, the Murray-Hopkins combo looked like it would grow into one of the most prolific in the NFL. The Cardinals started the 2021 season with a 10-2 record thanks to their high-powered offense, but Hopkins and Murray both battled injuries in the latter half of the year and the team faded, barely making the playoffs before getting blown out by the Rams in the wild-card round.
Hopkins never got on track in 2022, starting the year with a six-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The Cardinals finished with a 4-13 record, leading to the firing of coach Kliff Kingsbury. The team also parted ways with GM Steve Keim.
The Saints brought in Gruden to help Carr and the offensive coaching staff under coach Dennis Allen.
A second-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2014, Carr spent his career in the silver and black until his release after the 2022 season. He signed a four-year, $150 million contract with the Saints in March.
With the Raiders, Carr ran the West Coast offense installed by Gruden during the latter’s tenure as coach from 2018 through the first five games of the 2021 season. The offense is similar to the one the Saints employ.
The Saints’ version of the West Coast offense is an offshoot of the one former coach Sean Payton used during his 15 seasons as head coach in New Orleans. And it had its roots with Gruden Payton and Gruden coached together in 1997 with the Philadelphia Eagles, where Gruden was the offensive coordinator and Payton the quarterbacks coach.
His second season, he missed seven games with hamstring and then a knee injury, although his still scored eight touchdowns in 10 games on 42 catches for 572 yards. His third season was marred before it even started when he was suspended for the first six games of 2022 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
He played well in the nine games after he returned, making 64 catches for 717 yards and three TDs, but his numbers suffered when the Cardinals incurred quarterback injuries, and then Hopkins sat the last two games of the season with concerns about his knee.
Hopkins had only missed two games in his first eight seasons.
With Hopkins’ departure, the Cardinals’ No. 1 receiver is now Hollywood Brown, with Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal, Greg Dortch, and third-round pick Michael Wilson the next options on the depth chart.
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