Cardinals can reset by trading high draft pick, DeAndre Hopkins

Jan 5, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jan 6, 2023, 8:29 am

Thirteen is the Valley’s lucky number. Which seems appropriate for a hexed, vexed, voodoo doll of a sports town.

It was the number worn by Kurt Warner, who brought Arizona to the Super Bowl. It was the number worn by two-time MVP Steve Nash, and the number worn by James Harden at ASU. And as the disastrous debut season of #BirdCityFootball comes to an end, let’s hope 13 losses will be the ticket to redemption for the Cardinals.

Here’s how:

With 13 losses, the Cardinals will have an excellent opportunity to fleece a desperate trade partner entering the 2023 NFL Draft. With a loss to the 49ers on Sunday, they are guaranteed no worse than the fourth overall pick. If the Broncos beat the Chargers in Denver, the Cardinals could move up to No. 3.

Houston will very likely own the first overall pick and is one of many teams in need of a franchise quarterback. If Arizona doesn’t leap-frog Chicago with a Cardinals loss and a Bears win, then the Bears will pick second and already have theirs (Justin Fields).

Currently, there are two highly coveted quarterbacks available: Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Both are coming off tremendous bowl/playoff performances. One of them will end up in Houston.

Meanwhile, Kentucky’s Will Levis is widely considered a top-10 pick, and Florida’s Anthony Richardson has Cam Newton-like size and crazy measurables. He could vault up the board at the NFL Combine.

Remember how much the Bears paid to move up one spot to select Mitchell Trubisky? Or how much the 49ers squandered to reach for Trey Lance?

If the Cardinals hold the key to a coveted quarterback prospect, they could get a king’s ransom in return for their hard-earned draft pick. With enough left over to pay the Saints for the rights to coach Sean Payton.

Next, DeAndre Hopkins, who tapped out of the Cardinals’ final two games with a knee injury that feels more like a business decision. He does not vibe with Kyler Murray. Following his six-game suspension in 2022, he is clearly worried about his Hall of Fame credentials. Surely, he does not want to waste time on lost causes and rebuilding projects.

Remember how the Dolphins traded five draft picks for Tyreek Hill?

After playing in just 19 of 34 games in the past two seasons, Hopkins wouldn’t bring the same top-of-the-market return. He’s 31 and doesn’t stretch the field like Hill or Davante Adams. But he’s still an elite receiver and should command at least a first-round pick in return.

I worry about trading Hopkins.

His departure would leave the Cardinals without a No. 1 receiver, in imminent danger of overpaying for an inadequate replacement (Hollywood Brown). But the team might not have a choice. And I want the new culture in Arizona to be more physical across the board, a team that strongly believes in the ethos of practicing hard.

Of course, the instant rebuild only works if the influx of draft capital is placed in the right hands, with someone who can simultaneously navigate through the uncertainty of 28 unrestricted free agents. If the Cardinals are a serious organization, a new general manager will be installed in the months ahead, and not just a convenient, in-house hire.

This time, it must be a proven architect with an eye for culture. The job demands it.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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