DeAndre Hopkins’ future uncertain after PED suspension


And we dig now…

• In the first eight years of his NFL career, seven in Houston and one in Arizona, DeAndre Hopkins started 126 of 128 games, missing one game in 2017 and another in 2019. Last season, however, he missed seven regular season games and the Cardinals’ playoff game with hamstring and knee injuries, and thanks to a six-game PED suspension, he’ll continue to be on the sidelines quite often for Arizona.

When Hopkins returns from his suspension, he will have been out for 14 of the Cardinals’ previous 16 games. He will be 30 in June. His contract skyrockets in 2023 — he owes an unsecured salary of $19.45 million that year, his 31-year-old season, and is expected to carry a cap of $27.2 million. And after that, presumably, Kyler Murray will be out of his rookie contract.

You don’t need to have a direct line with general manager Steve Keim to see where this might take us.

And if there’s one thing to take away from Hopkins’ suspension, it really has to do with all of this. Upon his return, Hopkins will be heading for a critical 11-game streak. How the end of 2022 unfolds for him could go a long way in determining where his career goes next.

• I’ve been told that Hopkins’ impending absence was, indeed, a factor in the Cardinals’ pursuit and eventual trade for Ravens burner Hollywood Brown. Obviously, they had known for some time that Hopkins was facing suspension. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t have made the Brown trade anyway.

Every team that’s had Hopkins knows it’s imperative that you be quick with him because he’s not running away from anyone. That’s why the Texans drafted Will Fuller in the first round in 2016 and acquired Kenny Stills in 2019. And I believe that’s a reason why Christian Kirk was important to Arizona, and why the team kept the light on for former second rounder Andy Isabella.

So in addition to Brown’s relationship with Murray from Oklahoma, and the fact that his presence should help soften the hole Hopkins’ absence will leave in September and October, there’s also a reason related to the presence of Hopkins for the Cardinals to deal for him.

• The New York teams were playing an interesting game of chess, with several top 10 picks. This morning we covered how Jets general manager Joe Douglas played his hand, with Sauce Gardner being the pick since the start at No. 4, and Garrett Wilson hanging around there as the best option at receiver for the team. Now, we’ll tell you how things at No. 5 and No. 7 came together for Giants general manager Joe Schoen.

For the Giants, it was really about seeing the two picks in tandem, and less about how one player might be rated against the next. So with a desire to land Oregon passer Kayvon Thibodeaux and a top tackle tackle, the Giants weighed their options and feared someone would trade Carolina for the sixth pick for Thibodeaux l win.

Rumors swirled before the draft that Philly was plotting a move up the board for a corner or pass rusher, and Carolina made no secret that she was open to moving the pick, and that was enough, especially since as the Giants arrived on the clock at 5, every tackle was still available, meaning they knew they would have, at worst, the No. 2 lineman on their board.

So Thibodeaux is a Giant, just like Evan Neal, and a lot of fake drafts where New York took a 5-man tackle (mine included) got it (slightly) wrong.

• The deadline for fifth-year options has passed, and the final count for the first rounds of 2019 has arrived – 19 of 32 have had their options picked up. It’s also a pretty normal number, looking at the totals (gathering the guys with options picked up and the guys signed for an extension before the deadline) since the rookie pay scale went into effect 11 years ago. years.

Class of 2019: 19

Class of 2018: 22

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Class of 2017: 18

Class of 2016: 17

Class of 2015: 20

Class of 2014: 23

Class of 2013: 18

Class of 2012: 20

Class of 2011: 21

It’s also worth noting that the number hasn’t fluctuated much over the past two offseasons, with fifth-year options now fully guaranteed on the date they are exercised. Next year, for what it’s worth, will bring two easy quarterback calls (Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert) and one interesting one (Tua Tagovailoa).

Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) makes a throw against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter of the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome.

• An interesting nugget, maybe just for me: Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Panthers coach Matt Rhule directly negotiated the trade that brought Matt Corral to Carolina. If you want to keep the score down the line, the Panthers acquired the 94th pick, which they used on Corral, for the 137th pick, which brought Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe, and a third round in 2023.

And if you want to see it the way teams do, Carolina basically created a future third round to move up 33 spots.

• It’s hard to see the outcome of the weekend for former Clemson star Justyn Ross, who played as a freshman and was one of the heroes in the Tigers’ CFP title win over Alabama in January 2019. At that time, Ross seemed destined to become the program’s program. next highly drafted receiver. He has since had a cervical spine fusion and a lower back fusion, and as a result, most teams gave him a failing medical note.

The team doctors’ concern is that the wrong type of blow could be catastrophic.

The Chiefs signed him Monday as an undrafted free agent. Let’s hope for the best for him as he tries to carve out a place for himself in the NFL, which seemed certain three years ago, and above all good health for the future.

• While we’re at it, LSU’s Damone Clark was another player whose stock dropped in recent months for medical reasons. Doctors at the combine caught a back problem when he told them about problems he had had with stingers, and it was determined that he should have disc fusion surgery. At that time, Clark was expected to be drafted Friday night, somewhere in the second or third round.

But the back surgery could knock him out his entire rookie season, and that was enough to knock him down until the fifth round, where Dallas got him back.

• The retirement of Malcolm Jenkins has opened up a ready-made job for Tyrann Mathieu in New Orleans. He will be able to play the role of cover security, in which he can play high or low, and corner slots, which is basically what he has done for much of his career.

Plus, it’s cool to see him get shot to go home for his 10th year as a pro. And indicative, too, of how much he’s grown since he was at LSU. In 2013 when he was coming out, some teams that were within driving distance of New Orleans took him off the board simply because they didn’t think he could handle being so close to trouble that he had as a college student.

Suffice it to say, that kind of thing isn’t even a thought for saints anymore.

• Today is also a big day for free agents like Mathieu, as this is when their signings will no longer count against the teams that sign them in the comp-pick formula. For those like the Ravens, Rams and Patriots – who have put a lot of effort into the formula game to gain additional draft capital – passing this checkpoint is significant, and it was certainly not a mistake. that happened when the Mathieu deal was made. pushed over the goal line.

Among those still on the market: Jadeveon Clowney, Odell Beckham Jr., Trey Flowers, Julio Jones and Melvin Ingram.

• And we’ll end with a final note on outgoing Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. As I was calling around for the collection of good wishes from Colbert’s peers that we had in this morning’s column, Jets general manager Joe Douglas told me this story about being in Florida State as a young scout and going out for an after-work barbecue with the Pittsburgh boss — and how Colbert was constantly doing that for the guys who were coming in, taking them out and giving them advice.

So I told this for Bills GM Brandon Beane, and Beane had his own story. I’ll let Beane take care of here.

“Funny you say Florida State, because this year Labor Day weekend, and Kevin and I had seen each other at a few other games that weekend-Friday night was Virginia Tech/Carolina, I saw it Saturday night at Clemson/Georgia, and Sunday night it was Florida State/Notre Dame,” he said. “So we both land in the afternoon, the game is at night. We land at 2:00, 3:00, the two of you, and what you do, you’re gonna check into the hotel and get ready for the game, drive, I’ll see you at the game soon.

“He was getting a rental car from the company right next to mine, and he heard, while he was waiting, the guy say to me, We’re out of car rentals, you’ll have to wait about an hour. Kevin was like, Brandon, ydo you want me to take you? Well, we were in different hotels, I think to myself, Kevin, I have time, it will be fine. He says, Are you sure? And it’s like, IIf you don’t get that car in time call me and I’ll pick you up and take you to the game. I said, Yeah, I appreciate that, Kevin.

“Well, about 45 minutes later, he calls me…are you good Most people would be gone, like, that’s his problem. Kevin wanted to make sure I had a ride and was covered.

“It means a lot, and he always did. One of our professional scouts told me a story, when he was doing stuff in college. And I don’t remember school, I think he was at a pro day or something. It was a few years ago, and he and Kevin were just talking and Kevin said, Where are you going next? And he said to him, and Kevin started asking him, Do you know the best way to get there? He said, not really. And Kevin was like, Mapquest or whatever is going to send you this way, don’t go this way. He told her how to get there, and it was nighttime, so he said, It’s windy, be careful.

“Well, he said Kevin called or texted him that night to make sure he was safe. He had just met him. He had literally just met the guy. This is who Kevin is.

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