There are three sides of the DeAndre Hopkins acquisition and his “era” as an Arizona Cardinal.
There’s also always two sides to every story.
I hope that the DeAndre Hopkins time will be viewed by many as nothing but a success when he was here in Arizona, but the fact that some were surprised by it is...surprising.
Hopkins’ career stats in Arizona look different from his average, in part due to the shortness of his career. He spent 3 years in the desert after being acquired for a 2nd round pick, David Johnson and a swap of 4ths...and his average stats versus his last two years is almost a tale of two Hopkins:
From a 1200-1400 yards a year receiver to...missing 8 games each season for a total of only 1300 yards over two seasons.
For a younger wide receiver, you can look at that as a setback. For a 31 year old Hopkins who’s had injury issues aplenty between his ankle, hamstring and a PED suspension...
It’s a lot to look at.
I don’t think Hopkins has fallen off similar to the “when healthy” Sam Bradford did with Arizona but it’s clearly a different time for his career, especially since one of the reported reasons for the Hopkins trade WAS questions about his health by Bill O’Brien.
All in all...Steve Keim got a contract extension following the Hopkins trade. Bill O’Brien...ended up fired and is now with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator.
He clearly produced on the field and did it well, to a point where even if you want to point at Bill O’Brien and say he was “right”, it was Arizona who won games. Not the Texans or a 0-4 and fired B.O.B.
The time period where the shift occurred was right in the Green Bay Packers game, in which Hopkins strained his hamstring and missed a few games. This was right on the heels of A.J. Green’s infamous quote for an undefeated Cardinals team at that time:
A.J. Green on DeAndre Hopkins and his rib issue: “Hop don’t miss games. He’ll be fine.”— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) September 23, 2021
And after only playing in 15 of a possible 26 games later, missing nearly a whole season’s worth following the October injury:
We went from "Hop don't miss games" as a quote from A.J. Green in 2021 to DeAndre Hopkins missing the equivalent of an entire season due to injuries and now a PED suspension.— Blake Allen Murphy (@blakemurphy7) May 2, 2022
He has a $30 million cap hit next offseason. Will be 30 years old, too.
Furthermore—from a coaching/team standpoint, Hopkins was a disgruntled veteran player who wasn’t practicing and was not being a professional with publicly airing his desire to play for a new franchise almost WEEKLY which, is one of the worst things a new regime dedicated to building a new team culture can have.
Imagine if you are a new manager at a new establishment trying to do your job and there’s an employee who’s there that keeps talking about how much he wants to work elsewhere.
It doesn’t matter how good or talented they are, right? You’d have to fire them.
And the Cardinals’ release is one with 2024 in mind. It made more sense to look at the franchise’s future with current prospects being down to open up cap room for newer, younger players (or multiple ones) in a season in which their quarterback will be healthier or a total rebuild.
That’s money in the bank. Keeping the player around once draft day passed was...a tough sell.
There’s one final reason why it makes sense.
And it’s that Hopkins is a good receiver. Still. Really good. He even had a few great (if not elite) games for Arizona and the thing is, you WANT him on your team to win games.
If...you want to win games with him.
As unfortunate as it might be, this does dampen Arizona’s prospects for next year even more if possible. Perhaps the team and Hopkins needed a fresh start regardless. Perhaps it’s an intentional move by the organization to tank for as high a draft pick as possible.
But either way, the move isn’t a surprise. The only surprise was how many people thought that Hopkins was going to play for Arizona this year.