DeAndre Hopkins from Toronto: Patriots, Bills trade rumors piqued interest

May 22, 2023, 11:09 AM

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals...

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

DeAndre Hopkins lent few hints about where he will play football next season when he joined former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall on the I Am Athlete podcast Monday morning.

But he did in many words go in depth about what type of team he wants to be on in 2023, and whether the Arizona Cardinals can be that team.

He’s been keeping an ear to the ground as trade rumors have swirled around him this offseason. Two trade destinations at least piqued his interest.

“I’ve heard a lot of rumors and of people calling. I would definitely say the Patriots were one of the teams,” Hopkins said from Toronto, where he is getting his body right away from the Arizona Cardinals facility as OTAs begin Monday.

“Obviously, I would say the Bills are one of those teams I heard. I didn’t have direct conversations … just seeing what’s on Twitter, what’s on Instagram. Those are the only two teams I’ve paid attention to where I was like, ‘let me see if social media is right.'”

Hopkins’ status as June nears remains unclear as he comes off a second season in a row dealing with knee injuries. The receiver played nine games in 2022, putting up 717 yards and three touchdowns last season, missing time to a PED suspension and knee issues.

He said he is in Toronto to get his body examined in order to prolong his career.

I Am Athlete co-host Ashley Nicole Moss and Marshall pushed Hopkins to explain what he’s looking for in an ideal team for 2023 and to explain that Instagram post on May 1, where he gave a hint from a workout in Arizona that maybe he didn’t want to leave the Cardinals.

“I love Arizona. Working out of Arizona is amazing, a lot of people work out there, mainly because of the weather,” he explained Monday. “Phoenix is home. Phoenix is where I’ve been the last three years of my life. I enjoy being in Phoenix. Working out over here has no emphasis other than that’s where I am, that’s where I live.”

So there’s that.

Hopkins added that there are three things he wants in a team for 2023: Stable management, a quarterback who loves football like he does and a stout defense.

“A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but people around him. I don’t need a great QB, I’ve done it with subpar QBs. Just a QB who loves the game like I do,” he specified.

Hopkins, tip-toeing around how that might be interpreted, clarified he thinks Arizona could at least check a few of those boxes.

“From what I understand and me talking to (Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort), I think Arizona is in good hands. I can’t speak on much,” he said of the first-year GM.

“I would say our defense in Arizona is good. We got Budda Baker, Isaiah Simmons,” he added. “(Baker, who reportedly requested a trade, is) still on the roster from what I know.”

Moss pressed Hopkins about Murray and the quarterback situation from there.

“Kyler … is a quarterback who loves the game as well but he’s injured,” the receiver said, adding he loves backup Colt McCoy as well.

Hopkins later on added that his grandfather sent him clips of rookie and Houston product Clayton Tune (“I heard the quarterback we got from Houston is pretty good”).

But the main question is this: What will playing for a Cardinals team projected to land a top-five pick after this year do for the 30-year-old?

Hopkins might be able to defend Murray while also being aware that his timeline at this point in his career would make for a wasted season if the quarterback were to miss a significant portion of it recovering from a torn ACL.

“The dude is a competitor, a real competitor. That’s why him and I, sometimes we butt heads. It’s love. It’s like butting heads with your brother,” Hopkins said.

“His body language or whatever people say. … Kyler does it and it’s the topic of everything. I think for him, he’s misunderstood. … He wants to beat you shooting things into trash cans, ping pong, whatever.”

Hopkins remains respectful of his current employer and teammates and is open that a new situation might better suit him. His contract situation — two years with cap hits of $30.8 million and $26.2 million remaining — complicates matters if he wants to get traded, even if the Cardinals agree that moving on would benefit both sides.

“For me, no. I have no ego,” Hopkins said. “This is a business, this is a professional sport. Obviously there’s a new regime, … so for me, understanding and knowing the business, I can’t go into it with an ego.”

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