The Arizona Cardinals didn't get as much mileage out of the deal for the star wideout that they did with some other past trades.
Last week, the Arizona Cardinals ended their three-year association with one of professional football's most-coveted wide receivers. DeAndre Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowler, was counting way too much against the salary cap for an organization that has such low expectations for the upcoming season. Whether they admit it or not, the Cards are in a "rebuilding" stage, and a high-priced player like Hopkins simply didn't fit in with their plans.
In all honesty, the day that former Arizona general manager Steve Keim orchestrated the trade for Hopkins was one of the best in franchise history. No one could believe that such an outstanding pass-catcher could be acquired for such a reasonable price. In fact, the deal that Keim made to land Hopkins from the Houston Texans back in March of 2020 was considered by many to be highway robbery.
To obtain Hopkins, the Cardinals gave up second and fourth-round draft picks. David Johnson, a running back that Keim was likely thrilled to have extracted from the team's payroll, was also sent to Houston. As if securing Hopkins wasn't enough, the Redbirds also received a fourth-round selection from the Texans in the lopsided agreement.
The 6 foot 1, 212 pounder's first year in the desert was, in plain words, a work of art. In his 16 starts in '20, Hopkins totaled 115 receptions,1,407 receiving yards and six touchdowns for Kliff Kingsbury's "Air Raid" offense. And who can forget the play that Hopkins was a part of during the ninth week of that campaign.
On the final snap of a matchup with the Buffalo Bills, Hopkins was on the receiving end of a 43-yard, "Hail Mary" pass from quarterback Kyler Murray. The improbable hookup between passer and receiver resulted in an exhilarating 32-30 Cards victory, and will go down as one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.
The Arizona Cardinals had a Super Bowl aspirations when they acquired DeAndre Hopkins three years ago
Over the next two seasons, Hopkins would appear in just 19 out of a possible 34 contests for "Big Red". Injuries and a six-game suspension combined to keep the former Clemson University product out of 15 matchups. The final stat line for Hopkins' three years in Arizona consisted of 221 catches, 2,696 receiving yards and 17 scores.
While not a total failure, the Hopkins trade did not measure up to some other swaps in Cardinals history. In 2013, Keim sent sixth and seventh-round choices to the Oakland Raiders for signal-caller Carson Palmer, with a seventh rounder coming back to Arizona in the deal as well. In his five seasons with the squad, the 6 foot 5, 235 pounder posted a 38-21-1 record as a starter and led the Cards to an NFC Championship appearance at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign.
In 2016, Arizona somehow convinced the New England Patriots to part ways with sensational edge-rusher Chandler Jones. During his six years in the "Valley of the Sun", the 6 foot 5, 265 pounder racked up 262 tackles, 71.5 sacks, 131 quarterback hits, 23 forced fumbles and 19 pass breakups. The Cardinals sent just a second-round selection and draft bust Jonathan Cooper to New England for Jones, and received that mind-boggling amount of production in return.
Kenyan Drake, a gifted, productive running back, was acquired from the Miami Dolphins for a measly fifth-round back in October of 2019. In 2021, Keim acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles for basically nothing. The Cards once again made out well, giving up just a fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan to add Ertz to the scoring attack.
Unfortunately, Hopkins didn't pay dividends in the way that a few other trade acquisitions did for the franchise. The classy 30-year-old now gets to be a free agent, and choose a club that he thinks has a real shot at winning a Super Bowl championship. It's fairly obvious that the lowly Cardinals won't be hoisting a Vince Lombardi Trophy any time soon.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)