5-Time All-Pro WR Shockingly Released

Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, center left, runs during a run test with other players as Cardinals players report for camp at State Farm Stadium In Glendale on July 27, 2021. © David Wallace/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Never mind a trade.

That was supposed to be the outcome for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who circulated the trade rumor mill for months. But on Friday, the club released Hopkins, allowing the five-time All-Pro to sign anywhere in the NFL as soon as now.

5-Time All-Pro WR Shockingly Released

The Cardinals tweeted a very straightforward message Friday, “We have released Deandre Hopkins.”

WR Shockingly
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

When healthy, the soon-to-be 31-year-old is a Top 5 wideout in the sport, but the Cardinals appear to be embarking on some semblance of a rebuild — even after paying quarterback Kyler Murray a gargantuan contract less than a year ago. Cutting ties with Hopkins is evidently part of that strategy, as new Cardinals leaders took over the organization at the start of the year.

Hopkins will instantly be a wildly hot commodity. Most believed he’d fetch mid-round draft capital in a trade between now and the start of the regular season, but for unknown reasons, Arizona preferred an outright release.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Two sources told VikingsTerritory in March that the Minnesota Vikings were not a part of the Hopkins sweepstakes, citing the playmaker’s lack of speed. However, that intel was based on a trade package. The Vikings have since selected Jordan Addison from Round 1 of April’s draft and employ K.J. Osborn, making the team’s interest in Hopkins’ newfound free agency unlikely.

Also in March, Pro Football Focus nominated the Carolina Panthers as the smartest landing spot for Hopkins — yes, Adam Thielen’s new team — perhaps partnering the veteran wideout with the Andy Dalton and Bryce Young experience. PFF’s Sam Monson wrote, “Hopkins has been the biggest name on the trading block all offseason, and in a year where elite receivers are hard to come by, he is still an option that must be tempting for several teams, even with his contract.” Monson declared the Panthers as Hopkins’ ‘best fit.’

Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic.

Since Hopkins entered the league in the 2013 NFL draft, where he was selected 27th — two picks before the Vikings picked Cordarrelle Patterson and two picks after they brought in Xavier Rhodes — he ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards, only trailing Julio Jones.

He leads the league in receptions in the same span and is fourth in receiving touchdowns. Throughout the 10 seasons, Hopkins has made five All-Pro teams, including three nominations for the first-team All-Pro — and he’s a five-time Pro Bowler.

Other teams listed as possible landings sports for Hopkins include the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Ravens.

The man instantly becomes the most sought-after free agent in football.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.