DeAndre Hopkins will get to choose who he plays for in 2023 after the Arizona Cardinals released the three-time All-Pro wide receiver Friday.
Although it's not surprising that Hopkins won't suit up for the Cardinals, it's a bit stunning to see Hopkins hit the open market after months of trade speculation around him all offseason. Though Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort did say during the 2023 draft that the team didn't plan to trade Hopkins, so technically that's still true.
Now, the other 31 teams will all have the opportunity to sign the five-time Pro Bowl wideout outright. And Hopkins already made it abundantly clear which quarterbacks he'd like to play for, but that doesn't mean those teams need to or will want to add him to their roster.
Although Hopkins' production has waned in recent years and he's battled through injuries and a suspension for PEDs, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is still one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL. He averaged seven receptions per game and finished with 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns in the nine games he played in 2022. Hopkins also has the second-most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns among active wide receivers.
Here are the best fits for Hopkins, some of which are old and some of which are new.
When Hopkins was asked which quarterback he'd like to play for, the first name out of his mouth was Josh Allen. The Bills have also been linked to Hopkins since rumors emerged of his potential departure from the Cardinals. Coupled with an obvious need for a second top-flight receiver alongside Stefon Diggs in Buffalo's quest for a Super Bowl, Hopkins and the Bills look like a perfect pair.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones wasn't on Hopkins' list, but the Giants have a glaring need for a big-bodied receiver in their offense. New York has a robust group of pass-catchers between receivers but none can threaten a defense every snap like Hopkins can. The only truly reliable offensive weapons for the Giants right now are running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Darren Waller. Add Hopkins to that group and the Giants could once again be in the playoff hunt.
Kansas City Chiefs
Similarly to the Giants, the only day-in, day-out threat on the Chiefs is tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs also need a possession receiver who can take some pressure off Kelce and move the sticks after JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the New England Patriots. Kansas City's top three non-Kelce options right are Kadarius Toney, Marques Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore. The Chiefs would give Hopkins his clearest path to a title as well, and who wouldn't want to play with Patrick Mahomes?
New England Patriots
Hopkins would be the best free agent wideout for the Patriots since Randy Moss, and he'd be playing in the Bill O'Brien offense he thrived in with the Houston Texans after O'Brien return to the Patriots as their offensive coordinator. Now, Hopkins' relationship with O'Brien reportedly soured before O'Brien shipped Hopkins to the Cardinals in 2020, but former Texans tight ends coach John Perry said in February he thinks the two could still work together. The Patriots' offense looks bleak at the moment, and the addition of Hopkins could be a major benefit to Mac Jones.
San Francisco 49ers
Imagine Hopkins in a Kyle Shanahan offense that already features Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk. Chills. While the quarterback situation is still a bit of an unknown, Hopkins doesn't needs a superstar passer to produce at an elite level. Neither does this offense. The 49ers have a lot of incredible weapons but Hopkins gives them a receiver who can make any catch at any part of the field. He also wouldn't be the team's No. 1 option, which would give him more space to make plays.