The Cleveland Browns may not be able to afford DeAndre Hopkins.
It’s important to remember right from the jump that DeAndre Hopkins has not been an elite-level receiver in two years. Injuries and suspensions have limited him. His stats took a hit, yes, not just in total amount, but in productivity as well. He was targetted nearly 100 times (96) in 2022 and had a yards-per-reception of just 11.2.
He was ranked as just the 24th best receiver according to FiveThirtyEight, with a score of 65. He’s someone who’s fallen hard, and while he’s still a good receiver, he’s not a nearly $20 million receiver. Now, the Browns can restructure his deal pretty easily, as he has no guaranteed money left on his deal.
Plus, his last two years have really tanked how much he could demand in a new deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would get more than $8 or 9 million per year going forward. So the financial aspect isn’t unbearable, but what could be is the cost of Hopkins.
The Arizona Cardinals trade demands aren’t absurd, but the Cleveland Browns can’t afford them.
Even if Hopkins wasn’t becoming a shell of himself, a second-round pick in any other season for any other team is a steal. You can re-work his deal, get him for another two seasons or so, and see what happens. The problem is the Browns are looking at long-term cap issues due to Andrew Berry delaying owed money, on top of a lot of bad contracts.
To offset that type of trauma to the wallet, the Browns have to overly invest in cheap, young players on rookie deals. So the Browns, if they intend to contend past 2024, have to keep their draft picks. Considering they already gutted some of their best picks over the next few seasons for Deshaun Watson, the Browns can’t afford to give up a second-rounder anymore.
Especially a 2023 or 2024 second-rounder. Yeah, you could argue that Hopkins is, on paper, better than any second-rounder the Browns could draft, but the NFL is not pro wrestling. Star players after 30 don’t keep producing like they once did. They age fast. Hopkins is heading into his age 32 season and is already declining. Are you going to risk losing out on a potential Pro Bowler for at least the next four years, for one or two seasons of mediocre Hopkins?
I wouldn’t risk that. A couple of fourth-rounders, sure. Seconds? Nope.