Hopkins, who is 30 years old, was in the last season of his three-year contract with the Cardinals and was set to make $27.25 million in 2023. Arizona is in a rebuilding phase after a 5-11 record in 2022 and fired GM Steve Keim and former Head Coach Cliff Kingsbury this past offseason.
With the release of Hopkins, the Cardinals now have 8.5 million of cap space freed up to work with this offseason. They could use this money to sign free agents and give their new Head Coach, Jonathan Gannon, some additional help to remain competitive in 2023.
Replacing Hopkins Won’t Be Easy
Hopkins has been one of the best WRs in the NFL since joining the Cardinals in a 2020 trade with the Houston Texans, catching 142 passes for 2,125 yards and 15 touchdowns in 32 games. Additionally, Hopkins has the lowest drop rate among players, with a minimum of 175 targets since 2020.
The All-Pro wideout was suspended for six games last season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He also missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Hopkins’ release is a major development for the team. Hopkins was one of the most vocal leaders on the Cardinals’ roster, and his absence will be felt in 2023.
No word yet on where Hopkins will end up but the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will likely be the top pursuers for the All-Pro wide receiver.
Cardinals Wide Receiver Room Still Solid
Hopkins’ production won’t be easy to replace, but at least Arizona has some solid wideouts in the receiver’s room for whoever starts at QB this season.
- Marquis Brown–caught 67 of 107 targets for 709 yards and three TDs but missed five games
- Rondale Moore–snagged 47 of 69 targets for 414 yards and a TD while missing nine games
- Greg Dortch–hauled in 52 of 64 targets for 467 yards and a pair of TDs while playing 16 games
- Zach Ertz–snared 47 of 69 balls thrown his way for 406 yards with four TDs but missed seven games.
- Zach Pascal–was signed in the offseason from the Philadelphia Eagles
- Michael Wilson–the Stanford alum, was drafted in the 3rd round with the 94th pick. Injuries limited Wilson to 14 games due to various injuries over three collegiate seasons.
Despite the Hopkins move being somewhat expected, the Cardinals WR room won’t be left high-and-dry for the upcoming 2023 season, and a good move by Ossenfort as it frees up cap space to continue the rebuilding process.
The Cardinals’ defense gave up the second-most points per game, leading newly hired GM Monti Ossenfort to focus on fixing the gaping defensive holes with the majority of the Cardinals’ 2023 NFL Draft selections. Although Wilson was drafted, he may not even crack the rotation.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals’ offense is already facing trouble due to QB Kyler Murray’s ACL tear in Week 14. It’s likely that Murray will miss at least the first six games of the season.
While the backup QBs are serviceable, the team may face similar struggles as the Cardinals lost their remaining five games last season without Murray on the field. The first eight games of this season may prove to be just as challenging with or without Hopkins.
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