The DeAndre Hopkins Situation in Arizona Bears Watching
The Daniel Jones extension and Saquon Barkley tag news already have me looking for alternative playmakers the Bears can target.
Patrick’s recent look at what is happening with the Arizona Cardinals got me thinking about that situation as one being worth monitoring.
Specifically, when it comes to the status of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins:
A Hopkins trade makes a lot of sense for everyone involved. Arizona has a new GM and head coach. They’ll want to add some more draft capital. For Hopkins, he’s looking for new guaranteed money, which he’s unlikely to get from Arizona. So a fresh start for both sides seems like something everyone can benefit from.
Let it be known that the no-trade clause once seen as a potential hurdle in dealing Hopkins is no longer an issue. This is because the clause was voided due to the PED suspension the league gave Hopkins before the start of last year. That makes for one fewer loophole in this mess. Based on his résumé, Hopkins *SHOULD* be someone the Bears target. An older player (he’ll be 31 in June) who has been limited to 19 games over the last two seasons and might require an extension upon acquisition shouldn’t necessitate giving up a haul.
However, the reported price of doing business looks pricier than I thought it would be:
That is the kind of deal that makes you wish the Bears hadn’t already sent their second-round pick to the Steelers in the Chase Claypool trade. Even still … a second-round pick seems like a tall ask for Hopkins. Don’t get me wrong. The résumé is legit. And if you could guarantee Hopkins is going to put up 107 catches, 1,423 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns per year — as were his season averages from 2014-20 — then I could talk myself into being OK with shipping off a second-rounder. Especially when there is a real chance the Bears could recoup a second-round choice in a trade out of having the first pick.
And yet, I struggle to fully grasp this possibility because the Bears aren’t necessarily acquiring the Hopkins from his age 22-28 seasons. They’re acquiring the Hopkins who is coming off seasons that were shortened by injuries and a suspension. And someone who is about to enter his age 31 season as a pro. Sure, I think Hopkins’ game could age well. But I also understand the risk in assuming that he will. Assumptions are dangerous. They make a … well, you know how the saying goes.
In diving through Hopkins’ pro-football-reference page, I see Brandon Marshall comes up as a comparable player to Hopkins. From a statistical standpoint, I can see it. When you put the two careers side-by-side, the similarities are striking. These dudes were ballers who were a QB’s best friend. But in 2015, Marshall left Chicago after a regime change that came after he put up a disappointing season. Fast forward to 2023, Hopkins looks like he is about to experience the same upon a new regime’s arrival. Isn’t it wild how the NFL has a weird way of repeating history?
And while I feel as if it makes sense on multiple levels, I have a notable hangup.
Which Marshall trade the Bears would hypothetically be executing?
Would it be the first one, in which the Bears traded a pair of third-round picks to the Dolphins? That trade saw Marshall go wild in reuniting with Jay Cutler. Or would the Hopkins trade look like the 2015 deal the Bears cut with the Jets? In that deal, the Bears got a fifth-rounder in exchange for sending Marshall (and a seventh-rounder) to New York. Because that is where I pause when considering a Hopkins deal right now.
New York Jets Marshall is a cautionary tale. Marshall put up a 109-catch, 1,502-yard, 14 TD in his age 31 season. That was his first with the Jets after leaving the Bears. But in 27 games over the next three years that followed, Marshall caught just 88 passes, gained 1,078 receiving yards, and scored only four touchdowns. In other words, I can understand the perspective of anyone wary of trading for a soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout. Even one whose upside is as alluring as Hopkins.
Nevertheless, it is a situation we should keep tabs on moving forward. Especially after the dust settles with the first round of free agency.