Bears Insider

DeAndre Hopkins unlikely to join Bears for several key reasons

DeAndre Hopkins is now free to sign with any team, but don't expect the Bears to be his next stop

NBC Universal, Inc.

The great DeAndre Hopkins waiting game finally ended Friday when the Arizona Cardinals released the star receiver. The Cardinals had been trying to trade Hopkins, but his salary and the draft capital Arizona reportedly wanted in return made that a non-starter.

Hopkins is now free to sign with any team he chooses. While the 30-year-old would be an interesting final piece to the Bears' rebuilt receiver room, I wouldn't plan on pre-ordering your Hopkins Bears jersey.

Hopkins recently went on the "I Am Athlete Podcast" and hinted at what he will look for in his next destination.

Hopkins wants a quarterback that loves the game and brings his teammates along with him, a great defense, and a stable management situation.

While the rebuilding Bears have a stable management situation with general manager Ryan Poles, they are still in the early stages of rebuilding a defense that was one of the worst in the NFL last season.

Quarterback Justin Fields is an exciting playmaker with his legs but has yet to show he can consistently beat teams with his arm. The expectation is that with the revamped offensive line and the addition of wide receiver DJ Moore, Fields will finally have the supporting cast around him to make the necessary leap as a passer.

Adding Hopkins to that mix would undoubtedly bolster the chances of Fields going from a highlight-reel runner to a top-tier quarterback who can beat teams with his arm and legs.

But Hopkins also listed the top five quarterbacks he wants throwing him the ball, and Fields didn't crack the list.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen topped Hopkins' list, followed by Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert.

That's not to say that Hopkins wouldn't be interested in partnering with Fields, but the fact that the piece that would most entice Hopkins to come to Chicago -- outside of money -- didn't register on the list isn't a great sign.

The Bears still have $32.5 million in salary cap space, per Over The Cap. They can give Hopkins a lucrative one-year contract that the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs can't without severe cap gymnastics.

But while the Bears can offer Hopkins a bag of cash, the other expected suitors can give him a chance to rebuild his value while chasing a Super Bowl title. At 30, Hopkins likely has one more big-money deal in his future if he can prove he's still capable of being a top-5/10 receiver.

The best way to show teams that he can still take over games every Sunday is by playing with a star quarterback you know can consistently deliver the ball and in a system that will maximize your skills.

Fields is a great deep-ball thrower. That skill would mesh nicely with Hopkins' ability to make contested catches downfield. But the Bears are a run-first team that threw the ball an average of 21.2 times per game last season for just a shade under 150 yards per contest.

There's reason to expect a leap from Fields. But Allen, Mahomes, Hurts, Jackson, and Herbert are all proven commodities. Their teams are also built to contend for a Super Bowl this season.

It would be in Hopkins' best interest to join one of the contenders.

Plugging Hopkins in opposite Moore would give the Bears a lot of room for error in the passing game. Darnell Mooney could operate primarily out of the slot, and anything the improving Chase Claypool would give them would be a bonus.

Hopkins is worth a phone call. Three-time All-Pro receivers who are still in their prime are rarely on the open market. Should one break out, the Bears have the funds to win a bidding war.

But Hopkins has already told us what he's looking for in his next NFL home, and the 2023 Bears don't fit the criteria.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us