Which NFL Team Will DeAndre Hopkins Elevate in the 2023 Season?
By Ha Kung Wong
The NFL landscape is always abuzz with speculation during the offseason, and this year is no exception. And now we have DeAndre Hopkins to talk about.
We have released Deandre Hopkins. pic.twitter.com/POnAb3uhWH
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) May 26, 2023
This wasn’t the way it supposed to go in Arizona. When the Cardinals pulled off their March 2020 trade with the Houston Texans to acquire Hopkins for an aging David Johnson and a 2nd round pick, it was mostly thought of as huge win. Hopkins went on to make the Cardinals look like geniuses when he set a franchise single-season record his first year with 115 receptions for 1,407 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his second and third years with the Cardinals were derailed by a significant knee injury and a failed a drug test leading to a suspension for the first six games of last season, and ended with Hopkins choosing to skip the final two weeks of the season. So it was pretty clear that the Cardinals weren’t going to pay Hopkins $19.4 million this year and $14.9 million in 2024 to keep him around.
But releasing Hopkins outright on May 26th was a bit of surprise. There was discussion early in the offseason that the Cardinals would trade him, but then it appeared they reversed course on draft day and decided to keep him. Regardless of what the Cardinals were waiting for, it didn’t happen and now Hopkins will have the chance to choose his next landing spot. With a plethora of talented teams vying for his services, it is evident that Hopkins possesses the skill set to elevate any offense. He may be 30 years old, but he remains one of the top receivers in the NFL, even if he is no longer the top wideout.
And if Hopkins has his pick, it looks like the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Chargers are all top candidates. So let’s take a look at each of them.
On a recent appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, free-agent WR DeAndre Hopkins listed the five QBs he’d most like to catch passes from: the Bills’ Josh Allen, the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 26, 2023
First and foremost, the Buffalo Bills have emerged as a formidable force with young quarterback Josh Allen leading the charge. Allen’s rocket arm and ability to extend plays perfectly align with Hopkins’ unmatched route running and exceptional catch radius. The duo’s connection promises to strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses and elevate the Bills’ offense to new heights. Hopkins’ presence alongside Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs will create an unstoppable receiving duo that will stretch the field and open up opportunities for the Bills’ running game. Add in newly drafted tight end Dalton Kincaid and the Bills would be in the running for the top pass catching unit in the league.
As the Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs boast an explosive offense led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But currently the Chiefs have a handful of small to mid-sized receivers and no clear top target outside of Travis Kelce. Marques Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney appear to be solid complementary parts, but adding Hopkins to their roster would give the Chiefs a clear top target like they did with Tyreek Hill. Hopkins’ ability to win contested catches and make acrobatic grabs in traffic perfectly complements Mahomes’ arm talent. With Hopkins’ game-changing abilities, the Chiefs’ offense would become even more dangerous, posing a significant threat to any defense they face and shoring up their odds to repeat.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl runners-up, are eager to build upon their success with the talented Jalen Hurts at quarterback. Hopkins would provide Hurts with another reliable and explosive target, capable of making contested catches and stretching the field. With his versatility and knack for creating separation, Hopkins would be a nightmare for opposing defenses, especially when combined with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. The combination of Hopkins and Hurts could help the Eagles soar to new heights and contend for the Super Bowl once again.
The Baltimore Ravens, fresh off signing their dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson to a 5-year $260 million contract, are constantly searching for ways to unlock their offense’s full potential. So far, the Ravens added Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted highly touted rookie Zay Flowers, but it’s unclear how OBJ will do coming back from injury or how quickly Flowers can get acclimated to the NFL and make an impact. So adding a premier veteran talent like Hopkins would give Jackson a reliable player capable of making tough catches and creating big plays, not to mention challenge opposing defenses to pick their poison among the three receivers and Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews. Hopkins’ presence would not only boost the Ravens’ passing attack but also alleviate pressure on their strong ground game. The combination of Hopkins’ precise route running and Jackson’s electrifying playmaking ability would make the Ravens a formidable force in the AFC.
Lastly, the Los Angeles Chargers possess one of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. Herbert’s exceptional arm talent and poise in the pocket have already showcased his potential along with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Adding Hopkins would give the Chargers a game-changing receiver who can excel in contested-catch situations and consistently produce big plays. Hopkins’ ability to create separation would provide Herbert with another reliable go-to target, elevating the Chargers’ offense to new heights and making them a potent force in the AFC West.
All that being said, I’d think the Chiefs and Ravens would benefit the most from signing Hopkins. The Chiefs can make any wide receiver good, but the consistency they get from adding Hopkins would be beyond what they currently have on their roster. The Ravens on the other hand are tied to Lamar Jackson for 5 years and have already said they want him to throw more and run less. They won’t be able to do that with Mark Andrews alone and both OBJ and Flowers are question marks, so Hopkins makes a lot of sense.
DeAndre Hopkins’ exceptional skill set makes him an invaluable asset for any NFL team. Whether it’s with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, or Los Angeles Chargers, Hopkins has the ability to transform their offenses into unstoppable forces. His elite route running, unmatched catch radius, and ability to consistently make big plays will undoubtedly have a profound impact on whichever team is fortunate enough to secure his services. The 2023 NFL season promises excitement as Hopkins prepares to elevate five powerhouse teams and take them on a journey towards gridiron glory.