Hopkins’ split from the Cardinals could be seen coming for months.
Arizona’s decision to move on from coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim meant a new regime would be tasked with evaluating the existing roster and possibly making difficult personnel decisions in order to best position the franchise moving forward.
Hopkins landed atop the list of such decisions, but new GM Monti Ossenfort exercised patience on the matter while frequently fielding questions regarding Hopkins’ future in the desert. From the NFL Scouting Combine in late February through this week, Ossenfort responded with the same general line: We’re happy to have Hopkins on our team.
In reality, Ossenfort was waiting for the right opportunity to trade Hopkins. Such a moment never presented itself, forcing Ossenfort to part with Hopkins prior to June 1. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Cardinals had engaged in trade talks for months and they heated up prior to the draft, but no deal came to fruition.
Hopkins spoke on the situation in a podcast appearance published this week, explaining he desired stability more than money. With a new regime in charge, Arizona hasn’t exactly been stable, nor was Hopkins’ former home of Houston.
A late May release won’t add any security to Hopkins’ situation, either. It could end up proving to be a blessing in disguise, though, for a receiver who has earned three All-Pro honors and racked up 1,400 yards in his last fully healthy season of 2020.
Because of injuries and a suspension, Hopkins has only played in 19 of a possible 34 games in the last two seasons. He’s recorded nearly 1,300 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns between those two seasons, but hasn’t reclaimed a consistent level of production that previously put him in line for annual postseason honors.
Hopkins will undoubtedly be pursued by a number of teams. At 31 years old, the hope will be that the five-time Pro Bowler can still produce at an elite level, as long as he finds the right fit with his new team.
Given his freedom from a Cardinals team facing a rebuild, Hopkins will begin his search for his next destination.