The Arizona Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins this past Friday, May 26th. This brings into question which NFL team will be Hopkins’ next suitor.
If the Eagles are in a position in which they can pay the money DeAndre Hopkins seeks, should they?
The Eagles are fresh off a season in which they fell just short of winning the Super Bowl. Some Eagles fans think Hopkins is the missing piece that will lead them to the promised land: winning the second Super Bowl in Eagles’ franchise history. The short answer to the question of whether the Eagles should try to acquire Hopkins for me, though, remains no.
Of course, Hopkins coming to Philly and officially becoming an Eagle would first require his interest, which is an interest Hopkins has expressed. On Brandon Marshall’s “I Am Athlete” podcast, Hopkins praised Jalen Hurts. When asked which quarterbacks he would love to throw him the ball to for the second half of his career, Hopkins ranked Hurts second behind only Bills’ QB Josh Allen.
Hopkins said of Hurts on Marshall’s podcast, “He’s a Houston kid. He’s a dawg.”
DeAndre Hopkins was asked on @IAMATHLETEpod which QBs he'd love to have throwing him the ball. #Bills QB Josh Allen was quickly his first answer.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) May 22, 2023
Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert rounded out his top-5.pic.twitter.com/gtepzf9JD4
Name a wide receiver who would not want to catch footballs from Jalen Hurts. Not many, if any. Of course, Hopkins has expressed an interest in suiting up alongside Hurts, the reigning MVP runner-up. The only problem is that the Eagles already have two of the best wideouts in the game, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Acquiring Hopkins, though, would undoubtedly be an upgrade from the current Eagles’ WR3 Quez Watkins. But an upgrade at WR3 is not worth the $20-26 million Hopkins thinks he is worth. In 2023, Watkins will earn a base salary of $2,743,000, close to $17-23 million less than Hopkins will likely make.
The Eagles rightly decided to pay Jalen Hurts this offseason after his 2022-23 season breakout. Though the Eagles paid Hurts and other veterans this past offseason, they still have nearly $13 million available in cap space. This is more than the Bills and Chiefs have available; two other teams hare oping to get their hands on Hopkins. The money available to the Eagles, though, will be better spent on the team’s other needs, primarily on the defensive side of the ball. With Brown and Smith at the wide receiver position and Dallas Goedert at tight end, the Eagles have plenty of receiving firepower.
And Quez Watkins, at WR3, is still developing. Though Watkins had a meager 354 receiving yards this past season, he did reel in a career-high 3 touchdowns. In the 2021-22 NFL season, Watkins brought in 43 passes for 647 receiving yards. After Howie Roseman and the Eagles brilliantly traded for A.J. Brown in the 2022 NFL Draft, Watkins was targeted far less in the 2022-23 campaign. Watkins, in 2022-23, was only targeted three times per game on average. Watkins ranked fourth on the team in targets per game behind Brown, Smith, and Dallas Goedert. Imagine the difficulties that the Eagles will face trying to divide targets among Brown, Smith, Goedert, and Hopkins.
Brown, Smith, Goedert, and Watkins will each be twenty-eight years old or younger entering the 2023-24 NFL season. Meanwhile, Hopkins turns 31 next week and is entering his eleventh season in the league; his experience will certainly be valuable to whichever team he ends up playing for, but his age is also a factor teams must take into consideration.
Hopkins’ key attribute over the course of his career has been his sure hands. Over the past three seasons, despite some statistical drop-offs, Hopkins has maintained the lowest drop rate among active receivers. Hopkins and his sure hands, though, have been kept from the field for the large majority of the past two seasons.
In the 2022-23 NFL season, Hopkins faced a 6-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. In the previous season, Hopkins missed 7 games to an MCL injury. Hopkins has seen the field just 19 times over the course of the past two seasons.
As Hopkins has grown older, his play and presence on the field have been far less steady. Throughout the past two seasons, Hopkins has combined for a total of just 1289 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith totaled 1196 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns last season alone. A.J. Brown totaled 1496 receiving yards last season, a career-high. Brown’s 11 receiving touchdowns last season matches Hopkins’ total over the past two seasons.