Three weeks ago, DeAndre Hopkins published an Instagram Story that — despite an offseason of noisily trying to get traded — made it seem like he would return to the Cardinals without incident.
While Arizona spent months attempting to send the Pro Bowl wideout to a contender, no deal materialized, and Hopkins seemed to understand an always-tepid market had gone completely cold.
“I see everybody telling me to stay,” Hopkins said on the video. “Who said I want to go? Who said I wanted to leave? I’m out here working, baby.”
Kind of hilarious that D-Hop is acting like he didn’t want out, but either way a return to the Cardinals is trending up pic.twitter.com/TLSRfG5UbG
— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) May 1, 2023
The Cardinals would have been happy to deal Hopkins in order to secure draft capital and get off his hefty contract, but the other 31 NFL teams made it clear that his current worth is not much higher than the $17 million average salary he will receive over the next two seasons.
So it felt fait accompli that Hopkins would go to training camp with the Cardinals and try his best to make a bad quarterback situation work well enough to get shipped off at the trade deadline.
Was it ideal? No. Was it a workable plan? Yes.
But then, Hopkins went on the I AM ATHLETE podcast with former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall on Monday.
While he may not have explicitly said the words, Hopkins made it readily apparent that he still dreams of a trade sooner rather than later.
D-Hop trying to rev up his dormant trade market again.
Started this list with Josh Allen, added Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert.
— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) May 22, 2023
He named three things he was looking for at this stage in his career: stable management, a quarterback who loves the game and a good defense.
While he did defend the Cardinals in a follow-up question, rational minds understand that Arizona doesn’t meet that criteria, with a new GM and a bad defense. Hopkins said Kyler Murray loves the game, so that box would be checked, but “he’s injured.”
“Right now, I’m playing with Colt McCoy — who I love — but who knows?” Hopkins told Marshall and co-host Ashley Nicole Moss. “Right now I don’t currently have a Pro Bowl quarterback.”
There is nothing wrong with Hopkins wanting out, as there isn’t much sense in languishing on an NFL doormat in his age-31 season when championship hopes are fleeting for those near the end of their careers.
But it seems like Hopkins is unwilling to take a paycut to facilitate a trade, and if that’s the case, it could be a bumpy next few months, because there is no easy solution to this conundrum for the Cardinals.