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27 May 2023

DeAndre Hopkins during a Cardinals regular season game

The Dallas Cowboys could consider signing former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. ... [+] (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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The Dallas Cowboys may not be done adding receivers just yet.

The big news on Friday was the Arizona Cardinals surprisingly deciding to release DeAndre Hopkins. After weeks of trying to trade the five-time Pro Bowl receiver, Arizona failed to find any suitors and instead decided to absorb his $22 million cap hit for this season.

Hopkins won’t have any shortage of suitors, but the Cowboys should very well emerge as one of his potential landing spots. While Dallas already has three veteran receivers on its roster — CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup — the Cowboys could view Hopkin as the missing piece as they desperately seek to win a Super Bowl.

It’s no secret the Cowboys are desperate to get over the hump, as they’ve failed to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs since the 1996 season. With the NFC at its weakest point in years — the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers may be the Cowboys’ only viable rivals — this is likely Dallas’ best and last chance to get the job done under the current regime.

If Dallas doesn’t advance deep into the playoffs this year, we could very well be looking at Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott’s last season with the Cowboys. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler explains how Hopkins could fit into Dallas’ crowded backfield and why they should be considered a possible fit for the star receiver.

“Dallas has several receivers already, so this doesn't feel like a slam dunk to get involved, but at the right price I could see the Cowboys having interest,” writes Fowler. “With CeeDee Lamb as the No. 1 and Brandin Cooks as the vertical threat, Hopkins can be the isolation matchup receiver with elite ball skills for Dak Prescott. He can play in the slot or on the outside in that offense.”

With Gallup coming off of a disappointing season following a serious ACL injury, the Cowboys would likely have no hesitation in adding Hopkins if there’s mutual interest. Hopkins is seeking his first Super Bowl ring and playing alongside viable receivers may entice him to join Dallas.

For years, Hopkins has played as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver on the Houston Texans and Cardinals. With the Cowboys, he could prolong his career and manage to stay on the field more often, Hopkins has played just 19 games over the past two seasons, limited to just 10 games during the 2021 season due to a torn MCL injury.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are looking for any receiving help they can get. It’s worth noting that Dallas will also seek to replace tight end Dalton Schultz, who left for a free agent deal with the Texans. Schultz served as Prescott’s security blanket and one of his favorite receiving targets in recent years, averaging 66 receptions over the past three seasons.

While there’s little doubt that team owner Jerry Jones will at least explore the idea of adding Hopkins, one possible holdup is money. As NFL insider Mike Giardi notes, Hopkins is seeking to get paid on his next deal.

“As I tweeted yesterday. Hopkins wants money, and the OBJ deal didn't change his mind about how much should be coming to him when all is said and done,” wrote Giardi.

As Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills were the only teams to have “substantive” trade talks revolving around Hopkins. However, both teams backed out due to Hopkins’ contract — he was due to earn $19.45 million for the 2023 season.

“The Chiefs and Bills were the only teams to have substantive trade talks with Arizona,” writes Breer. “As was the case with Kansas City, contract was the issue for Buffalo. KC made progress, but OBJ's deal ($15M base) more or less blew that progress up.”

Breer also reports that unless Hopkins substantially drops his asking price, the Chiefs and Bills are both unlikely to sign the star receiver.

“As for where this goes next, I'd say the price will dictate that,” writes Breer. “Under current circumstances, unlikely KC or Buffalo go get him. If his price drops (both teams offered incentive-heavy deals), then ... maybe.”

As Fowler notes, the Cowboys have just $9 million in available cap space. That could be just enough money to lure Hopkins.

“The Cowboys have around $9 million in cap space, which is middle-of-the-pack in the league,” writes Fowler. “There is not a ton of space, but it's enough to make something happen here.”

If Hopkins is seeking a $15 million deal in free agency, it’s not likely to happen. While Odell Beckham did ink a $15 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens after missing all of last season due to injury, that situation is a unique one considering the Ravens were looking to appease quarterback Lamar Jackson during contract negotiations and they were also lacking a No. 1 receiver following last season’s trade of Marquise Brown.

While Hopkins won’t be lacking in options in free agency, the idea of signing with the Cowboys — which would result in an easier path to the Super Bowl compared to the stacked AFC — could emerge as the best possible choice for the five-time All-Pro selection.

With Jones always seeking to make a big splash, the idea of the Cowboys signing Hopkins could be a dream come true for both sides.