Arizona Cardinals release DeAndre Hopkins

May 26, 2023, 10:05 AM | Updated: 10:24 am

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, at State Farm Stadium as his team ...

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, at State Farm Stadium as his team played against the New Orleans Saints. (Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

DeAndre Hopkins’ time in the desert has come to a close.

The Arizona Cardinals released Hopkins on Friday, they announced.

Hopkins has two years left on his current deal and carries a cap hit of $30.7 million before it drops to $26.2 million in 2024.

With the move, the Cardinals free up $8.1 million in cap space but take a dead-money hit of $22.6 million for 2023.

If they had not traded or released the No. 1 receiver before or on June 1, they would have freed up $19.4 million in 2023 and $14.9 million in 2024 — the amount left on Hopkins’ contract — but take a dead-money hit of $11.3 million in each of the next two seasons.

The news of the move comes after the wide receiver said he and new Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort had a “good conversation” shortly after the latter’s arrival to the desert that didn’t necessarily center around the future. First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon said during offensive coordinator Drew Petzing’s introductory press conference on Feb. 23 (Thursday) that he had yet to talk to Hopkins but was looking forward to it.

Hopkins broke his silence on the matter in April, adding that he does not want a raise in a since-deleted Twitter post.

Amid all the trade speculation, a few teams were linked to Hopkins, including the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. Ahead of Thursday’s draft, friend of Hopkins and former NFL defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones reported those three as possibilities while adding he could see something happening with the wideout Thursday.

Hopkins also hired an agent to help with contract negotiations after previously representing himself.

In 35 games played over the past three seasons, the wideout has recorded 2,696 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 221 catches.

Despite missing time in 2021 due to injuries (seven games), Hopkins still paced all Cardinals pass catchers with eight scores.

This past season was a similar showing from the wideout, who led the team in receiving yards with 717.

That’s not to say availability wasn’t an issue over the course of the wideout’s tenure in Arizona, missing 15 games in the three-season span after being inactive for just two contests from 2013-19.

It was no secret that the Cardinals were at their best with Hopkins on the field. Defenses were forced to keep added eyes on the wideout, opening up other holes to exploit, and he gave quarterback Kyler Murray an unquestioned No. 1 option.

In their only full season together in 2020, Murray turned in his best season as a pro behind 3,971 yards and 26 touchdowns, both career highs, on 67.2% passing. He also accounted for 819 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

Hopkins was far and away Murray’s biggest target that season, pacing all Cardinals pass catchers in yards (1,407), catches (115), targets (160), yards after catch (527), first downs (75) and plays of at least 20 receiving yards or more (17). He tied then-Cardinals WR Christian Kirk in receiving touchdowns (six).

With Hopkins out of the mix, the Cardinals will likely turn to Hollywood Brown as the team’s No. 1 option at WR next season. Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal and Greg Dortch also figure to see a fair share of targets in their respective roles.

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