DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins Out For Cardinals’ WC Game

While the Cardinals may be welcoming back one of their key veterans for Monday’s Wild Card game against the Rams, they will be missing their No. 1 receiver. DeAndre Hopkins is not ready to come back to game action yet, according to an update from Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams

Hopkins was placed on IR in December after he suffered a torn MCL. That move, as expected, ended his regular season with an estimated recovery time of six weeks. While there was some hope he would be ready in time for Wild Card Weekend, the later stages of the playoffs were always the more realistic target for his return.

The 29-year-old’s second season in Arizona ended with a less than stellar stat line: 42 catches for 572 yards and eight touchdowns; the receptions and yardage totals are career lows thanks in large part to the fact he only played 10 games in 2021. Regardless of if he is able to come back at some point in the postseason, he is still under contract through 2024, with his cap hits scheduled to jump to $12.5MM next season and a maximum of $27.2MM in 2023.

The other injury news to keep an eye on is in relation to defensive end J.J. Watt. The 32-year old was designated to return from IR last week, opening the door to him returning in time for the playoffs. The news was surprising, given that the surgery he had to address a shoulder injury suffered in October was widely believed to have ended his season. Instead, he may be able to continue his inaugural season in the desert.

The Cardinals will finish the Wild Card round on Monday night when they visit the Rams.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/18/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Cardinals To Place DeAndre Hopkins On IR

DeAndre Hopkins will have knee surgery to repair his torn MCL (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The Cardinals will place the star wide receiver on injured reserve with the expectation that he will miss the remainder of the regular season. But, as previously reported, Hopkins could return after roughly six weeks, meaning that he could return for the later stages of the playoffs. ,

Hopkins met with Dr. Neal ElAttrache this week and learned that surgery would be his only choice. After further testing, the injury proved be just as bad as it initially appeared. Sandwiched between two Rams defenders in the end zone, Hopkins saw both defenders land on his legs, forcing him to sit out for the end of Monday night’s game.

The five-time Pro Bowler also missed time earlier this year with a hamstring injury. Now shut down for the rest of the year, his second Cardinals campaign will end with 42 catches for 572 yards and eight touchdowns. Last year, in a full 16-game slate, Hopkins posted 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six scores.

The Cardinals, sans Hopkins, will look to clinch a playoff spot this week with a win over the Lions. Of course, even without the three-time All-Pro, they still have plenty of weapons in Christian KirkZach ErtzA.J. Green, and rookie Rondale Moore.

Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins Out Through Week 18?

Cardinals wide DeAndre Hopkins is expected to miss the rest of the regular season (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). On the plus side, doctors are hopeful that his knee sprain will heal up at some point during the playoffs.

Hopkins, 29, suffered the injury towards the tail end of Monday night’s loss to the Rams. This will mark Hopkins’ second extended absence of the year, after he previously missed three games with a hamstring injury. To date, he’s got 42 catches for 572 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.

In his initial season with the Cardinals, Hopkins played the entire year, posting the kind of numbers (115 catches for 1407 yards and six touchdowns) that the five-time Pro Bowler has become known for throughout his career. With another year of chemistry with quarterback Kyler Murray, along with the offseason additions made to the offense, expectations were high for him to continue at his impressive pace.

While the team will certainly miss him for the stretch run of the regular season, the Cardinals can clinch a postseason berth as early as this week against the Lions. Their other main weapons in the passing game – Christian Kirk, midseason acquisition Zach Ertz, along with resurgent veteran A.J. Green and rookie Rondale Moore should be able to maintain Arizona’s potent attack, especially with a healthy Murray.

Hopkins signed a two year extension to his existing contract with Arizona upon being traded by the Texans. His cap number is set to jump from $7MM this year to $12.5MM next season, climbing further still to a maximum of $27.2MM in 2023. The deal ends after the 2024 season, when he will be 32.

 

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, WR DeAndre Hopkins Expected To Play Sunday

The Cardinals should be getting some major offensive reinforcement this weekend when they take on the Bears. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that both quarterback Kyler Murray and wideout DeAndre Hopkins are expected to play on Sunday. The duo practiced for the second-straight day today.

Murray hasn’t played since Week 8 while he’s recovered from a high ankle sprain. The former first-overall pick had guided Arizona to a 7-1 record before hitting the sideline, and while his rushing numbers were down, he was having a career year as a passer. Fortunately for the team, Colt McCoy has managed to keep the team afloat with Murray out of the lineup; the backup has gone 2-1 as a starter, tossing three touchdowns vs. only one interception.

Week 8 was also the last time we saw Hopkins on the field, as the veteran receiver has been dealing with a hamstring injury. While Hopkins’ yards-per-game mark was down significantly (at 60.8, his lowest total since 2016), he still hauled in seven touchdowns through eight games. The 29-year-old will now rejoin a deep receivers room that includes Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, and A.J. Green.

While the Cardinals will obviously welcome back the duo with open arms, head coach Kliff Kingsbury made it clear that the team would still be cautious.

“We’ve just got to be smart with how we use him if he’s able to go,” the coach said of Hopkins (via Darren Urban of the team’s website). “Maximize him the best we can and make sure we don’t wear him out.”

“We wanted to make sure they feel good and ease them back into the week. [Thursday] we’ll have pads on and hopefully they can do a little bit more.”

NFL: Unvaccinated Players Could Lead Forfeited Games 

The NFL isn’t forcing players to get vaccinated, but they are finding other ways to encourage it. In a memo to teams, the league explained that teams with outbreaks among unvaccinated players will be required to forfeit if their game cannot be rescheduled inside of the 18-week season (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The forfeit would impact playoff seeding for the team. And, in that event, players would be paid for the game.

If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the NFL said in the memo. “We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.”

We do not anticipate adding a ’19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season.

Furthermore, the team responsible for the cancellation would be responsible for covering costs. There could also be additional discipline from the league office.

Every team has at least 50% of its players vaccinated, Pelissero hears. Presumably, teams will be working harder than ever to get the number towards 100%.

The new guidelines weren’t received well by everyone. Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was among those to speak out on social media in a since-deleted tweet.

Never thought I would say this, But being in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL,” Hopkins wrote.

The Only NFL Players With No-Trade Clauses

It’s fairly common for disgruntled NFL players to give their teams a short list of acceptable trade destinations. However, it’s still quite rare for players to hold contractual veto power over a trade. Currently, there are only nine NFL players with a no-trade clause in their deals, as ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets

▪️ Drew Brees, QB (Saints)
▪️ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OL (Chiefs)
▪️ Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers)
▪️ Jimmy Graham, TE (Bears)
▪️ DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals)
▪️ Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs)
▪️ Deshaun Watson, QB (Texans)
▪️ J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals)
▪️ Russell Wilson, QB (Seahawks)

The Chiefs, who represent 25% of the list, furnished LDT with a NTC as a part of his contract restructure. Historically, there haven’t been many offensive lineman to secure the clause. However, Duvernay-Tardif had a bit of leverage in 2020 when the Chiefs needed extra cap room. He was scheduled to count for nearly $9MM, $6.45MM of which was comprised of base salary. Instead, he converted some of that money into a signing bonus over the remaining three years and came away with a perk typically reserved for quarterbacks.

Watson and Wilson are among the QBs who can block trades. They’re both putting it to use, albeit in different ways. Watson wants out — even after finally meeting with new head coach David Culley – and he’s steering himself towards a small group of teams, including the Dolphins and Panthers. Wilson, meanwhile, says that he doesn’t want to get traded and doesn’t expect to get traded. But, if the Seahawks do shop him, he wouldn’t mind joining up with the Bears, Cowboys, Saints or Raiders. In beating out several other teams for Watt, the Cardinals included the clause in the star defender’s contract.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Hopkins, Rams

Hit hard by injuries this summer, the 49ers‘ passing attack will be a shell of its optimal version Sunday. The 49ers declared George Kittle out Friday with a sprained knee. Kittle will not travel with the team to New York but will instead meet his teammates in West Virginia, where the 49ers will practice next week in between their road tilts against the Jets and Giants, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets. While the 49ers are expected to have first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk make his NFL debut, being down Kittle and top wideout Deebo Samuel (on IR) will not make matters easy for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • DeAndre Hopkins signed a lucrative two-year, $54MM add-on with the Cardinals add-on recently. He will go from earning $26MM through 2021 on his previous deal to making $42.75MM — all fully guaranteed — in that span, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Hopkins’ $6.65MM 2022 base salary vests in March 2021, Breer adds. Signed through 2024, Hopkins will receive $60.1MM over the deal’s first three years — up from the $39.1MM he would have collected under the terms of his Texans-constructed contract. The final two years of Hopkins’ new deal — 2023 and ’24 — are option years, Breer adds (via Twitter).
  • Despite eating a stunning $21.8MM in dead money from their Brandin Cooks trade, the Rams dived back into the fray of high-end receiver contracts. Their three-year, $47.25MM Cooper Kupp deal includes $35.1MM guaranteed and $20.3MM in full guarantees, according to OverTheCap. Woods’ four-year, $65MM pact, which comes with $32MM guaranteed, will only pay him $4.5MM over the next two years — which were part of his previous Rams contract. However, the deal’s first new year (2022) comes with $13.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • More injury trouble for Dee Ford. The 49ers pass rusher is now battling a neck issue and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Ford, who did not practice this week, has run into extensive injury trouble during his time with the 49ers. He played through knee, quad and hamstring issues in 2019 and missed time during camp with a calf malady. The 49ers restructured Ford’s contract to create cap space; the move will make it more difficult for the team to cut or trade Ford in 2021.
  • Mohamed Sanu‘s 49ers deal is worth a tad more than the veteran minimum. The former Bengals, Falcons and Patriots wideout signed a one-year pact worth around $1.125MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding that Sanu will receive a $137.5K bonus — despite being an in-season addition. Although the 31-year-old target struggled to assimilate in New England, he played under Kyle Shanahan with the 2016 Falcons.
  • The Seahawks are still on the lookout for pass-rushing help. The team brought in former Chiefs second-round edge rusher Breeland Speaks for a recent workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. A 2018 draftee, Speaks could not make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster. He missed all of last season due to injury.

Contract Details: Watson, Hopkins, Heyward

Here is the latest from some of the high-profile contracts signed around the league, beginning with the Texans’ former Pro Bowl connection:

  • Deshaun Watson, Texans: Four years, $177.4MM. Watson will receive $73.7MM in full guarantees, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The deal includes fully guaranteed salaries of $1.177MM (2020), $10.54MM (2021) and $35MM (2022). This places the Pro Bowl passer third among QBs. Watson’s 2023 salary ($20MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on Day 4 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Watson’s $32MM salaries in 2024 and ’25 are non-guaranteed. Watson’s contract also contains a no-trade clause, per Wilson.
  • DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals: Two years, $54.5MM. Hopkins received $42.75MM guaranteed at signing, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A $27.5MM signing bonus represents part of that guarantee, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Hopkins received a no trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause, Rapoport tweets.
  • Cameron Heyward, Steelers: Four years, $71.4MM. Heyward’s second Steelers re-up includes a $17.5MM signing bonus, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers will pay Heyward a $2.5MM roster bonus Friday.
  • Stephen Gostkowski, Titans. Gostkowski’s one-year Tennessee pact is worth $2.75MM, Rapoport tweets. The 15th-year veteran can make up to $3.25MM based on his 2020 field goal make rate.

Cardinals, DeAndre Hopkins Agree To Record-Breaking Deal

The Cardinals and DeAndre Hopkins have agreed to a two-year, $54.5MM extension, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The new money average comes out to $27.25MM/year, a whopping sum that positions Hopkins as the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history. 

[RELATED: Cardinals Rework D.J. Humphries’ Contract]

The highest-paid non-QB mantle previously belonged to Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, who’s making $23.5MM per annum. And, by topping $22MM per year on average, he’s now ahead of previous WR-watermark holder Falcons star Julio Jones. Of course, Hopkins still has three years to go on his existing deal, so it all totals up to a five-year, $95MM deal. Still, that’s far from chump change, and an average annual value of ~$19MM still puts him in the top five at wide receiver.

Hopkins – a three-time First-Team All-Pro – still managed 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns in a “down” 2019. Since 2013, he’s racked up 632 receptions, 8,602 receiving yards, and 54 touchdowns, while missing only two games. That’s not to say that Hopkins hasn’t dealt with injuries. Despite having a pin inserted in his surgically repaired wrist, Hopkins played through the pain and performed as one of the best offensive players in the game.

Before the deal, Hopkins had three seasons to go on his deal, all of which were non-guaranteed. The extension is expensive, but the Cardinals had this penciled in the budget before acquiring the superstar from the Texans. Ultimately, its worthwhile, especially when considering that they effectively acquired D-Hop for David Johnson and a second-round choice.