DeAndre Hopkins

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals, DeAndre Hopkins Nearing Deal

The Cardinals and DeAndre Hopkins are nearing agreement on a contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Hopkins – who left CAA earlier this summer – negotiated the contract himself. 

Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it could very well position him as the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. That title currently belongs to Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, who’s earning $23.5MM per season. Anything over $22MM per year on average would vault Hopkins to the top of the wide receiver list, ahead of Falcons star Julio Jones.

Hopkins has three years to go on his original Texans deal, which pays him just $12.5MM this year. Beyond that, he’s got two more seasons of below-market, non-guaranteed pay. The three-time First-Team All-Pro has averaged 90+ catches, ~1,230 yards, and eight touchdowns per year in the NFL. Meanwhile, he ranks ninth among all wide receivers in average annual value, behind Jones, Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas, A.J. Green, Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Brandin Cooks.

The Cardinals knew that extension talks were on the horizon with Hopkins when they pulled off their stunning trade in March. It won’t come cheap but, on the plus side, they didn’t give up much to acquire one of the game’s most dangerous offensive players. For a net cost of David Johnson and a second-round pick, they now tout Hopkins as their top receiver ahead of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Clowney, Cards, Giants, Panthers

A notable development transpired in Jadeveon Clowney‘s near-fourth-month free agency odyssey Tuesday. The Browns’ Olivier Vernon restructure points to them giving the Vernon-Myles Garrett pairing another year and bowing out on Clowney. This would eliminate a high-paying suitor from the sweepstakes. The Seahawks remain in the running for Clowney, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes they are not going to offer a deal in the $15-$16MM-AAV ballpark like they did earlier this offseason. Seattle’s offer in this neighborhood occurred several weeks ago, but the team is still in need at edge rusher. Clowney now has an offer in hand from the Raiders, but they were viewed as a “distant third.” However, with the Browns perhaps out, the Raiders may have moved up to second. At just more than $13MM in cap space, the Seahawks hold more than the Raiders ($8MM).

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins lined up as teammates for the first time, with the new Cardinals duo joining several teammates in Texas for a workout. Despite the NFLPA issuing directives for players not to gather for workouts, as the COVID-19 pandemic sets records (with Texas being a hot spot) in recent days. But other teams — most notably the Buccaneers — have seen select personnel conven for pre-training camp work. The Cards’ workout took place nearby where Murray went to high school, just north of Dallas.
  • Seahawks second-round pick Marquise Blair will compete with Bradley McDougald for the team’s starting strong safety job, opposite Quandre Diggs, but Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes the second-year player is also a candidate to be Seattle’s nickel back. Blair played just 219 snaps as a rookie, though Pete Carroll said he is “very interested” in getting him on the field this season. Ugo Amadi, a 2019 fourth-rounder, will serve as Blair’s primary competition for Seattle’s nickel role. Amadi played just 76 defensive snaps as a rookie.
  • The Giants hired their first female scout, naming Hannah Burnett as their Midlands scout. Burnett’s most notable NFL experience came with the Falcons, for whom she attended pro days and the Combine. In addition to Burnett, the Giants named Marquis Pendleton their northeast area scout and added Nick Williams as an offensive assistant. Pendleton has worked in a different scouting capacity with the team since 2016; Williams spent the past three seasons as Southern Illinois’ wide receivers coach.
  • The Panthers did not renew the contracts of scouts Don Warren and Clyde Powers, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Both staffers were Dave Gettleman hires. Warren was a three-time Super Bowl champion as a tight end with the Redskins, for whom he also worked as a scout prior to his Panthers stay.

DeAndre Hopkins Leaves CAA

Newly-minted Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins is changing agents. Per Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, Hopkins is leaving Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and he will be eligible to sign with a new agent on Sunday (Twitter link).

The move is particularly notable because of Hopkins’ contract status. The star receiver, who went to the desert in a shocking trade between the Cardinals and Texans earlier this offseason, still has three years remaining on his current deal, but he has been negotiating a new pact with Arizona. He has indicated that he is not demanding a new contract, but the Cardinals are amenable to giving him one if the price is right.

Apparently, Hopkins was less than thrilled about how negotiations were going between CAA and the Cardinals. CAA is easily the top player agency in professional sports and counts Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford among its most notable NFL clients, but its reputation wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Recent rumors have suggested that Hopkins’ next deal could make him the highest-paid non-QB in the league. However, given that he remains under club control through 2022, and considering the league-wide concern in giving out massive extensions in the current financial climate, that could be a tough sell. We will see if his new agency — assuming he does not choose to represent himself — can make more headway in that regard.

Hopkins joins an Arizona offense that has the potential to be explosive in 2020. The three-time First Team All-Pro has averaged over 90 catches per season for roughly 1,230 yards and eight TDs over his first seven years in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Tried To Trade For DeAndre Hopkins

The Ravens were among the teams that attempted to trade for wideout DeAndre Hopkins before the Texans dealt him to the Cardinals last month, according to Michael Silver of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Ultimately, Houston sent Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-rounder, and a 2021 fourth-rounder, a price that Baltimore was apparently unwilling to meet. The Ravens, who didn’t sign any free agent wide receivers in March, are currently set to return Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, and Miles Boykin as their top-three wideouts in 2020.

Of course, the fact that Baltimore was interested in acquiring Hopkins means the club could be eyeing a wide receiver early in the 2020 draft. Baltimore holds the 28th overall selection plus two second-round picks, and could use one of those slots on a pass-catcher in what is considered a historically deep class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Brady, Hundley, Hopkins

At multiple points during this offseason’s Tom Brady saga, we heard that the 49ers‘ reported interest in the legendary signal-caller was perhaps largely driven by Brady’s camp and that San Francisco was not legitimately considering the 42-year-old. But regardless of how serious their discussions were, 49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan at least explored the possibility.

“When you’re talking about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with Tom Brady, of course you’re going to have some internal discussion,” Lynch recently said in an interview on The Rich Eisen Show (via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). “So of course Kyle and I have discussions. … But within a day or two, Kyle and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know what, we really like what we have in Jimmy [Garoppolo].’ … I would tell you we’re more convinced than ever about who our quarterback is in Jimmy Garoppolo.”

Though he had a disappointing showing in the 49ers’ Super Bowl LIV loss, Garoppolo has largely justified the team’s steep investment in him, so it stands to reason that Lynch and Shanahan would continue moving forward with Brady’s former (and much younger) understudy.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • Per TMZ Sports, Cardinals backup QB Brett Hundley is being sued by his ex-wife, who is alleging that Hundley assaulted her both before and after their marriage. The suit is outside of the statute of limitations, and while the accuser’s attorney believes they will be able to overcome that hurdle, Hundley’s attorney says the action is nothing more than an extortion attempt and that Hundley will be filing a counterclaim. Arizona recently re-signed Hundley to serve as Kyler Murray‘s QB2.
  • Newly-minted Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins may not be demanding a new deal from Arizona, but the two sides are talking contract just the same. Hopkins has three years (and no guaranteed money) remaining on his existing deal, but former NFL agent and current CBS Sports pundit Joel Corry says the club has no qualms about renegotiating. Corry explores the two approaches the team could take: either adding money to Hopkins’ current deal — i.e. turning the roughly $40MM that remains due to be spread out over the next three years into $50MM-$54MM — or a more conventional extension that adds time and more guarantees to the current contract. Corry’s piece is well-worth a read for Cards fans.
  • In case you missed it, the Seahawks have not closed the door on a Jadeveon Clowney return.