Arizona Cardinals fans can blame Steve Keim for the DeAndre Hopkins fiasco
By Sion Fawkes
Steve Keim’s legacy with the Arizona Cardinals is about as bleak as most of the executives who have come and gone before him in the desert.
Now that the Arizona Cardinals have finally moved on from DeAndre Hopkins, it came in the form of a release as opposed to a trade. This move doesn’t sit well with more than a few fans, but at the end of the day, it was inevitable.
It soon became apparent that general manager Monti Ossenfort wasn’t going to get the deal he wanted for Hopkins. Not with the size of the contract the star receiver signed extension in September 2020, which carried an AAV of $27.25 million.
At that point, no one was giving up a large amount of compensation to take on Hopkins’ contract, and it’s something you can thank Steve Keim for, as opposed to castigating Ossenfort for getting nothing but $8.1 million in cap savings and a dead cap of $22.6 million thanks to the receiver’s release.
Sure, perhaps Ossenfort could have swapped the star receiver for a pair of Day 3 picks. It would have been something, right? True, but the fact of the matter is the Cards have 10 picks next season, so freeing cap space, even with the huge hit in dead cap, made more sense at the moment.
Arizona Cardinals general manager had little choice but to release Hopkins
Following the NFL Draft, it became apparent that Ossenfort wasn’t going to get the deal he wanted for Hopkins. Yet at the end of the day, it made more sense just to shed the contract, take the entire $22.6 million in dead cap (something they can more than afford this season) as opposed to the $11.3 million hit in 2023 and 2024 had he waited a few more days.
This strategy frees Ossenfort and the Arizona Cardinals of the burden that Keim handed them thanks to the fact he signed the then 28-year-old Hopkins to an extension that could have kept him in the desert until after the 2024 season.
For many, extending Hopkins to that megadeal looked good in foresight. In my mind, it was a bad deal all along. Hopkins was 28 at the time, at the age when players could threaten to take a step back at any time.
So to me, signing Hopkins to such an extension was a risky endeavor, as it could have kept him around until he was 32 years old. And with such a high AAV for a player over the age of 30, it had unnecessary risk written all over it, something Steve Keim did way too much of throughout his career as general manager of the Arizona Cardinals.
While it’s true that Hopkins wanted to be paid top dollar at the time, the potential risk far outweighed the potential reward, even in foresight. Moral to the story? You don’t trade for a then-28-year-old and sign them to a mega extension that could have kept them around for five seasons, with such a high AAV.
This isn’t on Ossenfort. It’s on Keim. And it was an ill-fated move the second the former general manager made the deal with Hopkins.
Source: Cardinals’ release of DeAndre Hopkins a product of his contract situation by Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com