The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the teams frequently linked to the Arizona Cardinals in trade rumors surrounding WR DeAndre Hopkins earlier this offseason. Now, we’re learning that the interest was a bit higher than previously suggested.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Chiefs received permission from the Cardinals to speak with Hopkins prior to the 2023 NFL Draft. Breer says the biggest obstacle to getting traded was his contract, which would 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 both sides could pick up where they left off. Breyer says not so fast. While the Chiefs liked Hopkins, they did not anticipate that he would become a free agent. The signing of Dovon Smith after the draft made his salary cap situation untenable for Hopkins’ current contract demands. If Hopkins were to land in Kansas City, Breyer says his price would have to come down.
The Chiefs were granted permission to speak with DeAndre Hopkins earlier in the offseason and have spoken to him prior to the draft, according to sources. The contract was the constraint, and to do it now, the price would have to come down.
KC likes him, but the deal they gave Donovan Smith makes the $$$ tough.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 26, 2023
Kansas City has a few options to improve its salary-cap situation and strike a deal for Hopkins. According to the NFLPA, the Chiefs have over $2.8 million in salary cap space. They still need to sign second-round pick Rashee Rice, which will affect that number as well.
One of the easiest options is to bring Chris Jones to the table and offer him a long-term extension that will reduce 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 stretch Hopkins’ cap hit out to create a contract with some zero years on it. It’s a strategy 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 position down the line.
Ultimately, Kansas City still has the wherewithal 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.