Yesterday, while Cardinals’ DC Vance Joseph was describing the New England Patriots’ offense as being a run heavy, dink and dunk passing system run by “defensive coaches”, Bill Belichick was going out of his way to heap praise on Cardinals’ WR DeAndre Hopkins.
The G.O.A.T. had this to say about D-Hop: (per Jim McBride’s Patriots Notebook in the Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/12/08/sports/patriots-are-run-facing-some-nfls-elite-receivers-next-up-is-arizonas-deandre-hopkins/)
“He’s got tremendous ball skills. He catches everything, has great hands, and he’s long, so he’s never covered. Even if he’s covered, there’s a place where the ball can be that he can get it and still make the catch,” Belichick said. “Great coordination on the sidelines, and he doesn’t really look it, but he’s a strong kid in terms of creating separation on routes, yards after contact, tough yards like around the goal line or that extra yard for a first down.”
“He’s a very smart football player, very savvy. But his ball skills are at the very elite level with guys that I’ve seen in this league,” said Belichick. “He’s up there with whoever the top guys are, the Cris Carters of the world and guys like that. He’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against.”
As we all know, tampering is illegal in the NFL. But, if there was ever a way to get a message out to a player that he would be very much welcomed in New England, this is the ultimate way.
After all, Belichick did this for years with Larry Fitzgerald. It was no secret that he and Tom Brady would have loved to get their hands on Fitz, had Fitz ever become available.
So, what about Hopkins?
Hopkins is under contract with the Cardinals for the next two seasons and he has a no trade clause.
Nothing to worry about, right?
Um, not so fast.
Have a gander at his Spotrac page:
Because of the various signing, option and restructure bonuses that DeAndre Hopkins has already received, he has pocketed virtually all of his guaranteed money, which means that even with two years left on the deal, he’s potentially right back where he was with the Houston Texans when, after having already pocketed all his g-ted money over the first 2 years of a 5 year deal, he threatened a holdout if he didn’t receive a brand new deal.
Could Hopkins make a similar demand of the Cardinals this off-season?
One would hope that Hopkins would be fair to the Cardinals in light of missing 6 games this past season for his PED violation. But, Hopkins has pleaded his innocence all along and has said he will provide more evidence regarding his case after the season.
Since the time that DeAndre Hopkins signed his deal with the Cardinals, as we well know, the salaries for top WRs in the NFL have skyrocketed.
Thus, the likelihood that Hopkins is going to demand a record setting second contract from the Cardinals is extremely high.
Thus, the Cardinals will be faced with having to pony up the mega millions to keep DeAndre Hopkins, or trade him to a new team who will rework his contract the way he wishes.
Note: because of Hopkins’ no trade clause, he would have to approve of any trade offer the Cardinals receive.
If the Cardinals were to elect to trade DeAndre Hopkins, his dead cap figure is $22.6M. Hopkins turns 31 in June, which could be a consideration, that, and perhaps some questions about his durability.
There are no lingering questions about Hopkins’ elite playmaking ability, when healthy. Just ask Bill.
The Cardinals may also find themselves in a fish or cut bait situation this off-season with Marquise Brown. Brown’s 2023 5th year option salary is $13.4M, fully guaranteed.
Would Hollywood be willing to play on the 5th year option, considering he too missed a number of games this season and had that scary 110+ mph 7 am speeding violation back in August during training camp?
These questions asked, the Cardinals could elect to hold firm on both of Hopkins’ and Brown’s contracts. But, the odds are very high that both of the WRs would thereby hold out.
As we know, the Cardinals gave up 1st and 4th round picks for Marquise Brown and 3rd rounder. Can the Cardinals afford to make Hollywood’s stay in Arizona a one year rental?
Then, there is the question of Hollywood Brown’s true market value.
To begin with, one could easily argue that his market value should be higher than Christian Kirk’s 4 year $72M contract, with $37M guaranteed.
Is Hollywood Brown regarded as a WR1 in NFL circles? Does he deserve WR1 money?
We know that Christian Kirk is clearly a WR2. Thus, if he making $19M a year, what would be fair yearly figure for Hollywood? Somewhere in the $22-$25M range?
The gist could very well be, that for all of the hoopla of the Cardinals finally having DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown this season on the field at the same time, Cardinals’ fans may not want to sell their tickets for the last two home games (Patriots and Bucs), that is, if they want to see a Nuk/Hollywood tandem on the field for a last couple of times.
In a perfect world, DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown will agree to play on their current salaries for the 2023 season.
But, let’s be real. The likelihood of this happening, after this year of utter and relentless drama in Arizona, are slim to none and Slim just left Scottsdale.
Therefore, what would you like to see the Cardinals do? What do you think they should do?