Detroit Lions just don’t really need to bother with DeAndre Hopkins

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 12: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a penalty call against the New England Patriots at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 12: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a penalty call against the New England Patriots at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Cardinals are reportedly planning to trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but the Detroit Lions don’t seem a particularly good fit.

If there was a “signature win” for the Detroit Lions in a 3-13-1 2021 season, it was definitely the 30-12 beatdown of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. Since that game, the two franchises have gone in dramatically different directions.

After a dismal 4-13 campaign this year, the Cardinals fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim stepped down. On Tuesday Jordan Schultz of The Score reported the Cardinals plan to trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins during the offseason.

Hopkins has two years left on his contract and $34.36 million left on his contract. Schultz added he is likely to seek a new contract, which may be what’s pushing the Cardinals to deal him.

Owner Michael Bidwell, per Schultz, will bring up the idea of moving Hopkins to general manager candidates.

Hopkins has been among the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last decade. His last two seasons have been shortened by injuries and a suspension though, as he’s played just 19 of 34 games. But he has been productive over that just more than a full season combined, totaling 106 catches for 1,289 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

Despite playing just nine games this season, Hopkins led the Cardinals with 717 receiving yards. From his Week 7 debut (post-suspension) through Week 14, when quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a torn ACL, he led the NFL with 56 receptions.

Hopkins will turn 31 in June. But he clearly has plenty left in the tank, and there will not be a lack of trade suitors.

But should the Lions be one of them?

NFL trade rumors: Detroit Lions don’t need to bother with DeAndre Hopkins

Any serious conversation about any team trading for Hopkins has to start with the financial dynamics. Via Spotrac, here’s what an acquiring team would be taking on to acquire Hopkins.

Those 2023 and 2024 cap hits are incredibly reasonable for someone with Hopkins’ resume, to say nothing of what he can clearly still do as long as he’s healthy. That last point is important to note, since his last two seasons have ended with him out injured.

A contract extension would be lined up to take Hopkins into his mid-30s, and he’d surely like to be closer to the top of a wide receiver market that has lapped him in the time since he signed his deal. He also has a no-trade clause, so he has control over his destination.

With currently projected cap space in the $17-$18 million range, via Spotrac and Over The Cap, the Lions can’t absorb Hopkins’ $19.45 million as-is right now. Restructures, cuts etc. could create more room, and there are a few of those moves on the table for the Lions this offseason.

In terms of the Lions wide receiver depth chart for next season, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams are locks. Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond are under contract, and feel like locks too. If DJ Chark is not re-signed, it’s reasonable to think someone comparable will be signed to replace him. So that’s four, if not five, spots accounted for.

The argument to trade for Hopkins rests on, “well, none of those guys are a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver.”

The Lions do have an extra first-round pick again this year, but it may not even take parting with a top-20 overall pick to get Hopkins. Their own second-rounder falls in the top-50 overall, and they have another second-rounder coming from the Vikings via the T.J. Hockenson trade. It depends on what the Cardinals want in a deal, and what the market will actually bear now that it’s out there they intend to trade him.

Making an aggressive move for Hopkins would go against a grain Lions general manager Brad Holmes doesn’t seem inclined to change, featuring primarily building through the draft. Take the current finances and the Lions’ needs elsewhere, a contract desire/demand from Hopkins, no absolute obvious need to add him and his being able to choose his new team.

It adds up to Hopkins landing somewhere other than Detroit this offseason.

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