What began as a positive message out into the universe of social media has bloomed into a DeAndre Hopkins reunion with his former Houston Texans teammate in Cleveland’s starting quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And being snow season, this thing has snowballed.
Watson posted a message on Instagram to which Hopkins replied. That is how this whole scenario began. A firestorm of comments and insinuations that these former teammates just could be reunited again - this time in Cleveland.
So I’m seeing #Browns fans are reading into this a bit too far… pic.twitter.com/st07veYiKg— Noah Weiskopf (@BrownsWithNoah) December 19, 2022
Not that either Watson nor Hopkins has suggested this. Apparently the response from Hopkins stating “Glory” has catapulted into the Browns making a trade with the Arizona Cardinals in order for the two friends to once again compete on the same club.
But Browns’ fans have lit up Twitter and Instagram about this being a possible trade in the off-season.
Both athletes graduated from Clemson with Hopkins leaving two seasons ahead of Watson.
Hopkins, age 30, entered the NFL draft after the 2012 season at Clemson in which he gained 1,405 yards, scored 18 touchdowns, and was named First Team All-ACC. He was taken by the Texans with the 27th pick in the first round. He has since been named to the NFL All-Rookie Team, First Team All-Pro three times, has gone to five Pro Bowls, and was the NFL receiving touchdowns leader in 2017.
Watson was taken in the first round of the NFL draft in 2017 with the 12th pick, ironically was originally Cleveland’s slot. His awards and accolades while at Clemson are a mile long including the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, National Champions in 2016 plus the National Championship Game MVP. With the Texans, he was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team, made three Pro Bowls, and was the NFL passing yards leader in 2020.
The two played in Houston for three seasons from 2017-2019 and have remained good friends. In March 2020, Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.
During this time frame, Hopkins gained 4,115 total yards including his best season as a pro with 1,572 yards in 2018. He also scored 31 touchdowns during these three seasons.
It is no coincidence that during these three seasons as teammates are the same three seasons that Hopkins was named First Team All-Pro and has not received this accolade since.
They are friends so, I don’t believe it till I see something, god knows a Cooper and Hopkins WR core would dominate the nfl.— My Beautiful Dark Twisted Cleveland (@ZeroDarkJeenYus) December 19, 2022
Of course, Browns’ fans would love to see a roster that includes Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones coupled with the talent of Hopkins. But Hopkins has two more years on his contract. The Cardinals extended his original deal which would have expired after the 2022 season. The extension runs through 2024.
Hopkins’ salary cap hit going forward is $31 million. Cleveland’s salary cap situation is one of the league’s lowest so adding the superstar receiver is impossible at this juncture unless he is willing to do a contract restructure or other high-priced players (such as Cooper) would also re-work their contract.
And any trade with Arizona would be unlikely taking into account the Browns are already in draft pick Hell with all the picks they shipped off to Houston in the Watson trade.
The Cardinals are one of the NFL’s worst clubs this year, so perhaps Hopkins could request a trade which usually means the player is later moved. As of now, however, Hopkins has not offered up any feelings of not wanting to remain in Arizona.
This year Hopkins began the season on a six-game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Since Week 7 he has gained 713 yards with just three touchdowns. In Week 8 against Minnesota he gained 159 yards with a score.