Fowler, who appeared on First Take Monday (May 29), described the two teams' pursuit of Hopkins as an "arms race," though acknowledged that neither franchise is "overly concerned" about landing the former All-Pro receiver, as it would be more of a luxury move than addressing a position need. Hopkins would also likely be prioritizing playing with one of the league's best quarterbacks in either Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, rather than take the most money offered, in a scenario in which he signs with Buffalo or Kansas City.
Hopkins, 30, was released by the Arizona Cardinals last Friday (May 26) amid an offseason of uncertainty.
"We have released DeAndre Hopkins," the Cardinals tweeted at the time.
The Cardinals will reportedly take on "the entire $22.6 million dead cap hit" brought on by Hopkins' contract this season as the release didn't take place after June 1, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported. Hopkins standout appeared on the I AM ATHLETE podcast posted on May 22 and addressed his absence from the Cardinals' mini camp session amid reports of uncertainty with the franchise.
"What I want is stable management upstairs," Hopkins said (h/t NFL.com). "I think that's something that I haven't really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston to being in Arizona; I've been through three to four GMs in my career. … A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him, 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. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships.
"For me, that's it: great management, a QB who loves the game and a great defense."
In February, former NFL agent Joel Corry wrote in his column for CBS Sports that the Cardinals could complete a trade involving Hopkins without the wide receiver's approval. The no-trade clause in Hopkins' contract was reportedly voided when he was suspended for a violation of the league's performance enhancing substances policy last offseason, according to Corry, who said "several teams" were reported to have inquired about Hopkins' availability prior to the 2022 trade deadline last November.
Hopkins served a six-game suspension to start the 2022 season and recorded 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns during nine games. The Cardinals hired a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort and head coach in Jonathan Gannon this offseason and could look to deal Hopkins, who is set to make nearly $20 million this offseason.
Hopkins, who was acquired by the Cardinals in a trade with the Houston Texans in 2020, is a three-time first-team All-Pro, two-time second-team All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowl selection and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2017. The former Clemson standout recorded 853 receptions for 11,298 yards and 71 touchdowns during his first nine NFL seasons.