Trade Proposal Lands Browns Elite $55 Million Wide Receiver

After a busy first week of free agency, the Cleveland Browns have emerged among the leaders to deal for one of the NFL’s most dangerous pass-catchers.

DeAndre Hopkins isn’t a free agent himself but is available on the trade market as the Arizona Cardinals have made clear their intentions to deal Hopkins for the right offer. After a handful of wideouts found new homes last week during free agency, and the Dallas Cowboys passed on Hopkins in favor of a deal with the Houston Texans for wideout Brandin Cooks, the Browns have stepped to the front of the line as suitors for the three-time All Pro’s services.

Cleveland invested heavily in quarterback Deshaun Watson last offseason, who finally returned to the field late in 2022 after nearly two years on the sidelines. The Browns basically stole wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Cowboys in a trade right around the same time they were signing Watson, sending Dallas just a fifth-round draft selection and sixth-round pick swap in exchange for Cooper’s contract.

Hopkins is another No. 1-caliber target who — when teamed up with Cooper, tight end David Njoku, running back Nick Chubb and one of the league’s most formidable offensive lines —  theoretically makes the Browns’ offense among the scariest in the league, assuming the 27-year-old Watson can return to his Pro-Bowl form.

Hopkins’ History With Watson Could Prove Boon For Browns Offense

GettyWide receiver DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals on the field during a game against the New England Patriots at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report on Monday, March 20, dubbed the Browns the best available fit for Hopkins moving forward.

Hopkins served a six-game suspension to start the 2022 season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy but averaged seven catches for 80 yards per game when he played. He’s still capable of elite production in the right scenario.

One such scenario is a familiar one in Cleveland. Hopkins’ best seasons came when he was catching balls from Deshaun Watson in Houston. Plus, the quarterback could use improved weaponry outside of Amari Cooper.

Watson wasn’t spectacular in his first six games with the Browns. Reuniting him with his former receiver could be just what they need to ignite the offense.

Ballentine went on to name the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans as the Browns’ primary competition for Hopkins’ services.

Hopkins Trade Likely to Include Extension From Browns

GettyWide receiver DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at State Farm Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The price for Hopkins is reasonable, at least from a trade perspective.

Cardinals insider Mike Jurecki reported on March 1 that the team is willing to let Hopkins go for a second-round draft pick and another conditional selection that could be based on the wideout’s performance in 2023 and/or if he signs a long-term extension with his new team. Cleveland’s first pick in the upcoming draft comes at No. 42 in the second round. The team also owns the No. 98 overall selection in the third-round.

If the Browns are going to surrender a meaningful draft choice in a deal for Hopkins, it would behoove the team to extend him. He is currently under contract for the next two seasons and is owed more than $34 million in total cash over the span, per Spotrac.

Hopkins will play his 10th NFL campaign in 2023 at the age of 31 and will be looking for an extension wherever he lands. A new deal with the Browns that adds more money in the immediate and another year or two to the contract on the back end, along with some flexibility for Cleveland to move on with relative ease in two or three years, makes sense as a compromise on both sides.

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