The Arizona Cardinals released wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Friday.
The move caught the attention of at least one particular Bills player as Von Miller, who trains with Hopkins in the Dallas area, posted eyeball emojis on Twitter.
— Von Miller (@VonMiller) May 26, 2023
It was Miller’s first tweet in a month. In late April, Miller said there have been “conversations. We’ve just to figure it out” and said Hopkins “wants to be a Buffalo Bill.”
The Bills have been linked to rumors about Hopkins for months. The rumors then seemed to die down, but picked up this week with Hopkins’ appearance on the I AM ATHLETE podcast.
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He was asked to list the top five quarterbacks whom he wanted to throw the ball to him, and the Bills’ Josh Allen topped the list.
“Oh, that’s a good question,” Hopkins said. “I would have to say, one of my favorite quarterbacks that I’ve been watching since he came into the league, is… Josh Allen. He reminds me of a new school Andrew Luck, and you know … I love Josh Allen.”
Hopkins, who turns 31 in June, also described what he would be looking for in a new team, though he quickly pointed out that he considered Arizona as his home and he never said he wanted to leave. He said he holds no ill will toward the Cardinals.
“What I want is stable management upstairs,” he said. “I think that’s something that I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston to being in Arizona; I’ve been through three to four GMs in my career. … A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him, pushes not just himself but people around him. I don’t need a great QB – I’ve done it with subpar QBs – just a QB who loves the game like I do. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships.
“For me, that’s it: great management, a QB who loves the game and a great defense.”
The Bills, among other teams, would seem to check those boxes.
New England, Kansas City, Baltiore, Dallas or Philadelphia also seem like landing spots to consider.
DeAndre Hopkins next team odds @PointsBetUSA 👀• Chiefs +300 • Bills +300 • Jets +600 • Ravens +700 • Chargers +950 • Cowboys +1000 • Lions +1200 • Patriots +1200 • Eagles +1500 https://t.co/OGOFEPnPpF pic.twitter.com/cDf2XfHAkw
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 26, 2023
The Chiefs received permission to talk with Hopkins earlier in the offseason and spoke to him before the draft, SI.com reported.
Hopkins did not attend voluntary OTAs this week with the Cardinals and has been training in Toronto, though, he has said not to read anything into Toronto’s proximity to an NFL city.
Bills players Dion Dawkins and Shaq Lawson also took to social media to help in the recruiting efforts.
@DeAndreHopkins there is a spot right next to me in the locker room #YouAlreadyShnow see u soon 😊
— Dion Dawkins (@DDawkins66) May 26, 2023
Lawson and Hopkins played together at Clemson and have worked football camps together in South Carolina.
D hop it’s time for us to get back together.
— Shaq Lawson (@Shaq_Lawson90) May 26, 2023
The Bills would need to create salary cap space to sign Hopkins, as they have only $3,163,801 in available salary cap space per the NFLPA.
But the Bills still have some levers to pull, including restructuring the contracts of tackle Dion Dawkins and cornerback Tre’Davious White. That would push money down the line, which Brandon Beane has been reluctant to do at times. White would represent about $5.8 million and Dawkins could be up to $6.4 million, depending on the use of voidable years. Ryan Bates and Taron Johnson also could be restructure candidates.
Buffalo also could sign extensions with players in the last year of their deals, such as safety Micah Hyde to decrease the extended player’s base salary and salary cap hit in 2023. An extension for Hyde could create $4.5 million.
The Bills could extend Johnson instead of restructuring his deal. An extension would save $4 million.
According to Overthecap, the Bills could add $34 million in space with what it defines as “simple restrcutures.”
The contract that Odell Beckham Jr. signed with the Ravens could be a blueprint. Beckham’s essentially one-year, $15 million deal has a base salary of $1.165 million and a signing bonus of $13.835 million. His cap hit is $3.9 million, but his dead cap value is the entire $15 million. That is because of four voidable years at the back end.
And as much as cap space matters, a more significant figure is cash spending. If the Bills restructure or extend players, that is cash out the door now in exchange for salary cap savings.
After Hopkins recorded more than 1,400 yards in his first season with the Cardinals in 2020, he’s played in just 19 games because of knee and ankle injuries in 2021, a six-game suspension to start the 2022 season for performance-enhancing drugs and missed two additional games with a knee inflammation.