DeAndre Hopkins got security with self-negotiated Cardinals extension

Sep 8, 2020, 3:08 PM
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals warms-up during a NFL team training camp...
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals warms-up during a NFL team training camp at State Farm Stadium on August 25, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) =
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Security can mean many things, and in the case of receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ extended contract with the Arizona Cardinals, the word is a broad brushstroke.

He reportedly got $42.75 million guaranteed after his current deal offered nada in that regard. More than $27 million will be paid out up front. Financially, he’s doing well.

The deal goes five years down the line, expiring after 2024, though that season can be voided. Hopkins has the security of not worrying about his status with the Cardinals for that long, because the two-year extension he signed Tuesday includes a no-trade clause and language to prevent Arizona from franchise-tagging him.

Hopkins put himself in control, and he did so by negotiating the contract himself.

“I probably did, I would say 90% of it myself,” Hopkins said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “It was a lot of reading, a lot of nights staying up late, learning the language and terminology of everything.”

Hopkins wasn’t completely alone. He has a team of advisors working behind the scenes and with past experience helping NFL players work out their own deals. The group also worked with Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the latter of whom signed the biggest contract for a tackle in NFL history in April.

Self-negotiating apparently worked out well for Hopkins, whose $54.5 million extension for 2023-24 averages out to the highest non-quarterback salary in NFL history.

“I can tell you it’s one of the most unique negotiations that I’ve been through,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “It was a great process for me. I got to know DeAndre as a person even more through this process. Again, at times we can agree to disagree in a negotiation, but more than anything, both sides remained positive with one goal in mind, and that was to get an extension that not only addressed his needs but also gave us the flexibility moving forward to continue to sign our core players and keep sustainable success.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been challenging at times. COVID certainly presented some obstacles for us in terms of timing, but we couldn’t be more excited, again, to have DeAndre under contract for five more years.”

Hopkins said learning the negotiating process and preparing for it by studying contract language will help him in a post-playing career working in an team’s front office. Immediately, he wanted the ownership of negotiating his own contract.

The time spent he believes is worth it for those reasons, even if he ran out of time to keep up with a yoga routine. Meditation and daily talks with his mom helped him navigate the negotiation process.

Since the Cardinals traded David Johnson while swapping draft picks to acquire him from the Texans, Hopkins said he’s always wanted to work out a longer-term deal with Arizona. He loved the idea of growing with quarterback Kyler Murray for the foreseeable future.

“We knew with our young quarterback that we’re really excited about if we could pair him with a guy like that, they can grow together … the next four to five years, it could be huge,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta. “When you talk about having Fitz here already, who is playing so good, and Christian Kirk, who we think is another guy who has such a huge upside, to bring in another piece like that with this young quarterback would be paramount.”

Hopkins also tethered himself to the success of Kingsbury, the second-year coach who unknowingly made a strong impression on the receiver when Hopkins was still with Houston.

“I really don’t watch a lot of football — if you know me — (of) other teams. Just the opponents that I’m playing,” the receiver said. “I was like, man, let me check out Arizona. I hear they’re doing some good things.

“I actually watched the game and I was like, man, if I could be in this offense, a pass-first offense one day, phhhew, sky’s the limit. I guess I spoke that into existence.”

Spending the past month working with his new Cardinals teammates and negotiating with Keim didn’t change Hopkins’ desires to remain in Arizona. Watching future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald and getting to know Murray only solidified Hopkins’ feelings.

“I want to stay on this team for five years first and foremost because I’ve never had more than two years with one quarterback in my eight years of playing football,” Hopkins said. “Being able to build a relationship with a quarterback, sky’s the limit of what I feel like I can do.

“Having Kyler around and this being my first year here and just being around him, it’s contagious the way he plays and the will that he has to do whatever it takes to win.”

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