On Friday, the Arizona Cardinals just cut to the chase and snipped wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins along with it. So, with the Carolina Panthers possibly on the prowl, is this a deal general manager Scott Fitterer and the front office should be in on?
Here are four reasons why the Panthers could sign the free-agent pass catcher.
For all the additions the Panthers have made to their hands department, they still don’t have an undisputed No. 1 wideout.
DJ Chark is coming off ankle surgery, Adam Thielen will be 33 years old when the season begins and rookie Jonathan Mingo is, well, a rookie. And while Terrace Marshall Jr. could rise to the occasion in 2023, he and the rest of that group are far from sure things when it comes to fulfilling that top role.
Hopkins, a three-time First-team All-Pro, remains one of the game’s most skillful receivers and would instantly slot in atop the depth chart.
NFC South favorites?
Although Hopkins is still amongst the league’s best at his position, he’ll be turning 31 years old in just a few weeks. So you’d imagine, as he hits the other side of 30, that he wants to compete for a Super Bowl as soon as possible.
(And you don’t have to imagine that, being that he’s pretty much said it.)
Unfortunately, the Panthers likely won’t be able to give him that right away. But they can give him an immediate shot at a division title—something he hasn’t tasted in three years.
Plus, with the NFC South still without a clear frontrunner, Hopkins may be the piece that puts Carolina, head coach Frank Reich and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young over the field.
Guap for Hop
Again, the Panthers should contend for a playoff berth. But being that they’re not one of the few favorites to make it out of the NFC this upcoming season, they’ll probably have to sweeten the pot and pay a premium to get Hopkins over.
Luckily, they currently have the second-most salary cap space in the NFL at around $27.3 million. And while the five-time Pro Bowler could command a yearly number somewhere near $20 million, the Panthers are just as strapped as anyone if they really want to make a run at him.
Hopkins has ties to the area—as he was born in Clemson, S.C., attended D.W. Daniel High School in Central, S.C. and, of course, went to Clemson University. So if he wants to come home, the nest could be awaiting him.
He also has ties to a few staffers. The Panthers hired Adrian Wilson as vice president of player personnel and Shawn Jefferson as their wide receivers coach this offseason, both of whom spent time with Hopkins in Arizona.