The Arizona Cardinals gave up quite a bit to acquire DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, and they have now agreed to a massive contract extension with the star receiver.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Hopkins and the Cardinals have agreed to a two-year extension worth $54.5 million. The contract includes more than $40 million at signing and makes Hopkins the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.
As Rapoport noted, Hopkins negotiated the deal without an agent. It also reportedly includes a no-trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause.
Hopkins is in the middle of a five-year, $81 million contract he signed with the Houston Texans prior to the 2017 season, so the new deal is an extension. He was initially set to earn $12.5 million in 2020, but he now gets a lot more money up front.
The Cardinals traded David Johnson and draft picks to Houston for Hopkins back in March. The 28-year-old has been one of the best receivers in football for several years now. He caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Might another Flacco brother be on his way to the NFL?
Per the NFL’s daily workout/visit list, the Arizona Cardinals brought in quarterback Tom Flacco, brother of Joe, for a tryout on Sunday.
Tom Flacco spent time at both Rutgers and Western Michigan before landing at Towson, where he was the starting quarterback for two years. He threw 50 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during his time there. His 2018 season was good enough that he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the outstanding offensive player in the FCS. He went undrafted in April, and did not sign with any team afterward.
Flacco’s odds are pretty long. He turns 26 in November, which is very old for a rookie. He’s also just 6-1, small for an NFL quarterback. That said, he’s very athletic and has been compared to Taysom Hill, so maybe there’s a role for him somewhere.
Budda Baker has played just three seasons in the NFL, and the Arizona Cardinals safety is already the highest-paid player in league history at his position.
The Cardinals have signed Baker to a four-year, $59 million contract extension. The $14.75 million average annual salary makes him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. Baker’s agent confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is done.
Baker has quickly become one of the best strong safeties in football. His 104 solo tackles last season were more than any other player in the NFL. Baker ranked fourth in the league with 147 total tackles. He also has 3.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in three seasons.
While Baker has shown off his Matrix-like athleticism at times, he has yet to record his first NFL interception. That just gives him one more milestone to look forward to as he collects his record paycheck.
If you have the Arizona Cardinals down as a potential breakout team in 2020, take comfort in the fact that Kenyan Drake agrees with you.
The Arizona running back told NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Thursday that he thinks the Cardinals are ready to “take the league by storm” in 2020.
“I feel like the hype is warranted, to be honest,” Drake said, via Nick Shook of NFL.com. “When you add arguably the best receiver in the league in DeAndre Hopkins, the most electric quarterback in the league in Kyler Murray, you add me to the fold, you add a couple more pieces to the O-line, on defense, you draft a (Swiss Army) knife in Isaiah Simmons, shore up the D-line and bring in other people to build a great puzzle… (That’s) what we have in Arizona. I feel like we’re going to go out there and really take the league by storm, especially our division.”
Drake felt that the Cardinals were too inexperienced to really break out in 2019, but things are different now. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense did win plaudits, but more consistency and better defensive play is needed if the Cardinals are going to live up to Drake’s lofty expectations.
Drake himself will be a big part of those expectations. He ran for 643 yards in eight games after Arizona picked him up last year, though the Cardinals only won two of those games. Clearly, that hasn’t put a damper on Drake’s enthusiasm.
Patrick Peterson is entering the final season of his current deal with the Arizona Cardinals, and the Pro Bowl cornerback is hoping to work out an extension with the team. If that doesn’t happen, however, it does not sound like he intends to hold out.
Peterson was asked about his contract situation on Thursday. While he’s “optimistic” about getting a new deal from Cardinals, he said he has a chip on his shoulder and is ready to prove himself in 2020 if need be.
It probably would have been easier for Peterson to land an extension had he not been suspended for six games last season due to a PED violation. Peterson looked a step slow when he came back and did not round into form until later in the season, so he can’t blame the Cardinals for not wanting to commit several more years to him.
Though some of his cryptic social media activity led people to believe he wanted out of Arizona at one point, Peterson says he wants to finish his career with the Cardinals. The 29-year-old is right that he has to prove himself before the team wants to pay big money to make that happen.
The bulk of the NFL offseason is essentially over, with almost all the big moves being made and the draft being settled. That means we can really begin to assess who will be good next year and who did well this offseason based on free agency, trades and the draft.
Here are five teams who did the most to get better during an unusual offseason.
5. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts spent the bulk of the offseason retooling their offense, and they certainly look like they’ve succeeded. The biggest move was signing Philip Rivers to a one-year deal. He should immediately upgrade the team’s quarterback play. They also managed to upgrade through the draft despite not having a first-round pick. Adding Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor with the team’s first two picks should help Rivers, and proves that this team means business on the offensive end. They could be a real contender in 2020.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns had to fix their offensive line to give quarterback Baker Mayfield a fighting chance in 2020. They did so aggressively, adding Jack Conklin via free agency and Jedrick Wills Jr. tenth overall in the draft. That alone should bolster the offense, as Mayfield struggled to get anything going in part due to the constant pressure he was put under in 2019. Grant Delpit was a great value pick to help the secondary as well. Cleveland’s division got tougher, but the Browns got better, and that’s all they can ask.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When you can replace Jameis Winston with Tom Brady, you’re getting better. End of story. That move headlined Tampa Bay’s offseason, combined with the rather dramatic return of Rob Gronkowski to the fold. The draft has real potential to propel them forward too. Tristan Wirfs is a great pick who will help Brady stay on his feet, while Antoine Winfield Jr. has the potential to be a sturdy NFL starter. This team is suddenly being talked about as a Super Bowl contender, as any Brady team should. That’s a huge leap forward no matter what.
2. Miami Dolphins
Given the lack of talent on Miami’s roster a year ago, they had nowhere to go but up. With money to spend, though, the Dolphins made the most of it. Miami spent heavy on defense, adding Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy to what was the league’s worst unit. They brought in Jordan Howard as a legitimate backfield option. Capping it all off is the selection of Tua Tagovailoa in the draft, along with two offensive linemen to help protect him. 2020 may be a year too soon for the Dolphins, but they’re very clearly on the right track thanks to a great offseason.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins was regarded as so lopsided by most in the industry that it effectively put Bill O’Brien on the hot seat. That’s of little concern to the Cardinals, who managed to get one of the game’s best receivers while simultaneously offloading David Johnson’s bloated deal. Devon Kennard was a savvy addition at linebacker, and top draft pick Isaiah Simmons should be one of the most entertaining rookies in the league. There is some concern that they didn’t do enough to address the offensive line, but they added a lot of talent elsewhere that should push them toward .500 or better in 2020.
There were some surprises in the NFL Draft that saw elite wide receivers fall a bit further than expected in the first round. Part of the reason why may have been the DeAndre Hopkins trade.
Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted on FOX Football Now with Jay Glazer that the team had been very interested in one of the wide receivers, but the Hopkins trade changed all that.
“We were eyeing some of these wide receivers in the draft,” Kingsbury said, via Garrett Stepien of 247Sports. “It’s a draft-heavy class. But to get one of the players at the position in the league beforehand was a huge get for us and we’re just thrilled to have him be a Cardinal.”
The Cardinals ultimately landed hybrid defender Isaiah Simmons, who fell to them at No. 8.
Quarterback Kyler Murray was reportedly lobbying behind the scenes for one of his former college teammates, but the pick just wouldn’t have made sense. Maybe it would have before the Hopkins trade, but that deal seems to have reverberated across the draft, too.
The Arizona Cardinals have three established wide receivers on their roster and drafted three more of them last year, but general manager Steve Keim isn’t ruling out using the eighth overall pick on another one.
Keim said needs are “always changing,” but certainly left the door open to adding yet another receiver high in the draft.
This would certainly be unorthodox. The Cardinals traded for DeAndre Hopkins to go with Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, and they also have young talent at the position. A top receiver feels like a luxury, not a need, especially for a team that didn’t have much success in 2019.
If the Cardinals do go receiver, they would probably be making quarterback Kyler Murray very happy, especially if they select his preferred choice.
The Arizona Cardinals have already added a big weapon for Kyler Murray this offseason, but the quarterback wants even more.
According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Murray gave Cardinals management a “glowing” review of former Oklahoma teammate CeeDee Lamb ahead of the NFL Draft. Lamb is regarded as one of the top receivers in the NFL Draft, and the Cardinals have a realistic chance of seeing him on the board when they pick No. 8.
The Cardinals picked three receivers in last year’s draft in addition to Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, and newly-acquired DeAndre Hopkins. Using another first rounder on a wide receiver is probably too much for Murray to ask.
Murray will likely have to settle for the Hopkins addition. Considering how excited he was about that, it will probably be sufficient.
The much-discussed trade between the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals has not officially gone through yet, and the teams have less than three weeks to complete it as it’s currently constructed.
DeAndre Hopkins and David Johnson both need to pass physicals in order to complete the trade. While there is no reason to believe that either player will fail their physical, the clock is ticking on the completion of the trade.
Both teams are swapping 2020 draft picks as part of the deal, which raises more important questions. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, if the physicals are not done by the start of the NFL Draft in 19 days, new terms would have to be agreed, since the teams cannot just draft for each other to complete a deal that isn’t done.
The Hopkins trade has not gone over well in Houston, so some Texans fans are probably rooting for it to fall through. It seems unlikely that both teams would let it get to a point where it may be in jeopardy, though, so expect this to come to fruition.