The Cleveland Browns are unlikely to finalize a deal for DeAndre Hopkins, but an insider decides he’s not completely ruling out a possible move for Deshaun Watson’s former top target.
In her latest Q&A column, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot was asked about the idea of the Browns making a switch for Hopkins, which the Cardinals are expected to move this offseason. Though she wasn’t overly optimistic that a deal would materialize given Hopkins’ age (30) and salary, she called it “not impossible.”
“The Browns would have the makings of an exchange, but probably wouldn’t want to pay Hopkins, 30, his 2023 and 2024 base salaries, about $20 million and $15 million, respectively. If both sides were interested in a deal, he would likely have to restructure his contract,” Cabot wrote. “An older, high-priced receiver doesn’t really fit the Browns’ profile, but Hopkins still has a lot in the tank and a natural connection with Watson. It seems unlikely, but not impossible.”
Hopkins is a three-time first-team All-Pro selection and has six thousand yard seasons under his belt. However, he has endured a tough few years hampered by injuries and suspensions, and has played nine games for the Cardinals this season. He still managed 717 yards in 64 grabs with three touchdowns.
Keeping Hopkins doesn’t seem logical for the Cardinals. Quarterback Kyler Murray is expected to miss at least part of next season after suffering an ACL injury and the team firing head coach Kliff Kingsbury this offseason.
Watson and Hopkins thrived in Houston playing together. Hopkins amassed 4,115 receiving yards with Watson at the helm for the Texans, including a monster 1,572-yard, 115-catching season in 2018. Watson spoke out after the Texans dealt Hopkins to the Cardinals in 2020.
“I was definitely hurt when we left it [Hopkins] go,” Watson said on Carmelo Anthony’s YouTube series What’s In Your Glass. “This is my brother, this is my dog. But that’s part of the business. Something I can’t control.”
Watson had to shake off some rust last season after a 700-day absence from football. In six games, Watson rushed for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions, with the Browns going 3-3 in his starts.
He built solid chemistry with Amari Cooper, who was struggling with an injury late in the year. He caught 21 balls in the six games that Watson was in the QB, including a 105-yard, two-touchdown performance on Jan. 1 against the Commanders.
Cooper finished his freshman year with the Browns with 78 catches for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns — which is particularly impressive considering the Browns’ QB situation was shaky for most of the year.
“Scored a lot of touchdowns and made some plays. I’m really the type of player who often thinks about the plays I didn’t make,” Cooper said. “I definitely feel like I left games out there, but that’s why we train and that’s why we work hard in the off-season so we can come back and be better next season. I intend to.”
The Browns should have an experienced wide receiver on their radar at liberty to combine with Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Whether it’s Hopkins has yet to be determined.