On Friday, the Arizona Cardinals announced they would release five-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, presumably opening the door for him to talk to the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the Hopkins-Chiefs conversations were already ongoing, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Kansas City reportedly attempted to trade for the 30-year-old before he hit the open market — but the Baltimore Ravens’ $15 million guaranteed contract for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. changed everything.
“The Cardinals were giving any teams who wanted to talk to Hopkins permission to do so.,” wrote Breer. “Two teams that got such permission, the Chiefs and Bills, spoke to Hopkins and [Saint] Omni (Hopkins’ representation), and those two were the only two that engaged Arizona in trade talks. So the interest in giving up a pick or two to get Hopkins was pretty tepid...
“Kansas City made progress toward a deal, but things went a little sideways when Odell Beckham Jr. got $15 million in base pay from Baltimore, making Hopkins feel like he should land at least that much, given that Beckham didn’t play last year.”
Later in his writeup, Breer notes that the Chiefs offered Hopkins a deal similar to the one they gave left tackle Donovan Smith — a contract loaded with incentives to keep Kansas City in a good salary cap position. Arrowhead Pride estimates the Chiefs have about $1.1 million in 2023 cap space, a number that should drop by about $240,000 once wide receiver Rashee Rice signs his rookie deal.
Hopkins may still wind up with Kansas City or Buffalo, should he want to pursue a championship on a one-year deal before getting paid next offseason (a la JuJu Smith-Schuster). But even with an incentive-laden deal, the Chiefs would have to make some more room — all while hoping a team with cap space (such as the Dallas Cowboys or New York Jets) doesn’t make an offer similar to Baltimore’s number for Beckham.