The reason is pretty simple. By cutting him before June 1, the Cardinals are taking on the entire $22 million in dead money from Hopkins’ contract this season. Had they released him after June 1, the dead money would be split up over the next two years.
The Cardinals’ strategy is pretty clear at this point. During the 2023 NFL Draft, they traded back from the No. 3 overall pick and added an extra first- and third-round pick from the Houston Texans. They are all about 2024 and beyond right now under a new general manager Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon.
They’re going to take their dead money medicine this year, and Hopkins will be off their books completely in 2024. By then, the Cardinals will have those extra draft picks and some extra cap space to do more in free agency.
What’s Next for DeAndre Hopkins?
As for Hopkins, the two teams that spoke to the Cardinals the most throughout this process when they hoped to trade him were the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. Those two teams kept checking in, especially if there was interest in adjusting his contract.
Hopkins also mentioned three things he was looking for in a new team.
One was a stable GM and coach. No. 2 was a quarterback who loves the game. And the third was a really good defense.
WATCH: Hopkins Seems to Bash Murray
Count on Buffalo and Kansas City to continue checking in throughout this process along with some other teams. The 33rd Team analyst Greg Jennings said last week both teams would be excellent fits.
However, there is no reason for Hopkins to do anything immediately. He could take his time if he wants to. It’s also worth noting Hopkins moved on from the agent he hired earlier this year. He currently is not represented by an NFLPA-certified agent.