Hopkins to KC? What Chiefs stars and pundits say about free agent wideout’s potential destination

FILE: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins pauses on the field during the first half...
FILE: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins pauses on the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. The Chargers won 25-24. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Ross D. Franklin | AP)
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 1:52 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A prominent wide receiver hit the free agent market Friday afternoon when the Arizona Cardinals decided to release DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins, a former All-Pro, was available via trade throughout the off-season but released Friday after the Cardinals were unable to find a team willing to pay his nearly $20 million in guaranteed salary. Now, he can sign with whichever team he’d like and negotiate a new deal while the Cardinals pay him what’s still left on his old deal.

Among the teams that received permission this off-season to speak with Hopkins about re-working his contract following a trade was the Chiefs. While no deal got done then, Kansas City now has the opportunity to negotiate again, undeterred by the need to send draft pick compensation to Arizona to make a deal work.

“The Chiefs and Bills were the only teams to have substantive trade talks with Arizona,” MMQB reporter Albert Breer said on Twitter Saturday. “As was the case with Kansas City, contract was the issue for Buffalo. KC made progress, but (Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s) deal (worth a base salary of $15 million) more or less blew that progress up.”

Recently, Hopkins appeared on the I Am Athlete podcast and listed Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes among his top five quarterbacks he’d like to catch passes from. Now that Hopkins is a free agent, multiple Chiefs on the roster have publicly begun recruiting him.

“Come win a ring in KC bro,” Chiefs safety Justin Reid said.

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Defensive end Charles Omenihu signed with the Chiefs in free agency this off-season. He played with Hopkins while in Houston, and is recruiting him to join forces in Kansas City.

“You free now come on to the kingdom,” Omenihu wrote on Twitter.

While Breer said current circumstances make it unlikely that either the Chiefs or Buffalo Bills get Hopkins, a heavily incentive-laden deal could get the job done. Kansas City signed Juju Smith-Schuster to a deal during his free agency last off-season that had a low base salary and plenty of incentives. Smith-Schuster played the singular season in Kansas City to rebuild his market value before signing with New England this off-season, something ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said could be done once again with Hopkins.

“Totally speculative -- but a short-term deal with the Chiefs would make so much sense to me,” Darlington said Friday afternoon on Twitter. “The fact Hopkins is available via free agency shows you his value needs to be improved. Nowhere better to do it right now than KC. Win-win.”

Right now, Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s 2,840 career receiving yards leads all of Mahomes’ targets in the Chiefs’ wide receiver room. Of course, tight end Travis Kelce is still Mahomes’ first option in the receiving game, but it appears there’s a mutual interest to add the man with 11,298 career receiving yards.