The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the teams often connected to the Arizona Cardinals in trade rumors surrounding WR DeAndre Hopkins earlier this offseason. Now, we’re learning that interest was a bit more substantial than previously suggested.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Chiefs received permission from the Cardinals to speak with Hopkins ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. Breer says that the biggest hurdle in getting a trade done was his contract, which would have cost Kansas City a significant amount of cap space.
Now that Hopkins is set to become a free agent following his release, you’d think the two sides could just pick up where they left off. Breer says not so fast. While the Chiefs like Hopkins, they didn’t seem to anticipate that he’d become a free agent. Signing Dovonan Smith after the draft has made their salary cap situation untenable for Hopkins’ current contract demands. If Hopkins were to land in Kansas City, Breer says his price would have to come down.
The Chiefs received permission to talk with DeAndre Hopkins earlier in the offseason and spoke to him before the draft, per sources. Contract was the hurdle, and to do it now, price would have to come way down.
KC likes him, but the deal they gave Donovan Smith makes $$$ tough.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 26, 2023
Kansas City does have some options to improve its salary-cap situation and fit a deal for Hopkins. According to the NFLPA, the Chiefs have just over $2.8 million in salary cap space. They also still need to sign second-round pick Rashee Rice, which will impact that number as well.
One of the easiest options is bringing Chris Jones to the table and offering him a long-term extension that would lower his cap hit. They could create up to $16 million in salary cap space with that one move alone.
Another option would be for Chiefs’ salary-cap guru Brandt Tillis to create a contract with some void years on it to spread out Hopkins’ cap hit. This is a tactic often used by teams like the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, but it runs the risk of hurting the team’s salary cap situation down the line.
Ultimately, Kansas City does still have the means to acquire Hopkins. The big question remaining is whether or not their level of interest in the player has changed since the 2023 NFL draft.