After DeAndre Hopkins made his iconic “Hail Murray” touchdown catch against the Bills in 2020, he delivered a memorable quote during a postgame interview. Reflecting on the play, Hopkins remarked, “It was just a better catch by me.”
Throughout his time with the Cardinals, Hopkins showcased his exceptional catching abilities on numerous occasions. However, with the team undergoing changes under new management and coaching, and considering Hopkins’ significant $30 million salary cap hit and recent absences due to suspension and injury, it made sense for the team to move on from the soon-to-be 31-year-old wide receiver.
Following weeks of speculation and unsuccessful trade negotiations, Hopkins was officially released by the Cardinals on Friday. The move will result in a dead salary cap hit of $22.6 million in 2023, but the team will be relieved of his contract thereafter.
While Hopkins never explicitly expressed a desire to leave, he also never firmly stated his intention to stay. In various national interviews, he openly discussed his interest in other teams and quarterbacks he would like to play with.
When asked about his preferences in a team earlier this week, Hopkins emphasized the importance of stable management, a passionate quarterback who rallies the entire team, and a strong defense, noting that great defenses win championships.
Since his acquisition in 2020, where the Cardinals obtained him along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for a second-round pick, running back David Johnson, and a future fourth-round pick, Hopkins had an outstanding first season. He set a franchise record with 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns, earning second-team All-Pro honors.
In his second season, Hopkins battled injuries, missing seven games due to hamstring and knee issues. Nonetheless, he managed to score eight touchdowns in 10 games, recording 42 catches for 572 yards. However, his third season faced a setback when he was suspended for the first six games of 2022 due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Upon his return, Hopkins performed well in the remaining nine games, accumulating 64 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns. However, his numbers were impacted by quarterback injuries, and he sat out the final two games of the season due to concerns about his knee.
Prior to this, Hopkins had only missed two games throughout his first eight seasons.
With Hopkins’ departure, the Cardinals will rely on Hollywood Brown as their new No. 1 receiver. Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal, Greg Dortch, and third-round pick Michael Wilson are the subsequent options on the team’s depth chart.