The Arizona Cardinals acquired All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins March in a trade with the Houston Texans. Now the team is signing him to a massive contract extension. Hopkins inked a new deal on Tuesday and became the highest-paid "non-quarterback" in NFL history.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, the extension adds two years to Hopkins' existing deal and gives him $54.5 million in new money. This averages to $27.25 million per year. Hopkins also gets $42.75 million guaranteed as part of the new contract, which he negotiated himself. Rapoport also reports that the deal includes a no-trade clause, as well as a no franchise tag clause.
Entering the 2020 season, Hopkins already had three years remaining on his previous deal. He was set to remain with the Cardinals through the 2022 season, but now he will be a member of the team for even longer. If he ever does decide to leave, however, Hopkins can void the remaining year of his contract extension and turn it into a one-year deal worth $39.585 million.
When the Texans traded Hopkins, the move caught many by surprise. After all, the former first-round pick out of Clemson had caught 632 passes for 8,602 yards and 54 touchdowns in seven seasons with the team. The majority of this production also came with a rotating cast of quarterbacks. Hopkins caught passes from Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage, Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, TJ Yates, Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden, Case Keenum and Deshaun Watson.
Despite consistently producing at a high level during his time with the Texans, Hopkins still headed to Arizona after Bill O'Brien's trade for draft picks and running back David Johnson. Reports later surfaced about "friction" between the head coach and his star wide receiver. This includes an alleged incident in which O'Brien likened Hopkins to the late Aaron Hernandez.
"I said, 'Tell me what happened in Houston,' and he went into it," Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin said during a March appearance on Get Up. "He told me, he said, 'Michael, it was a bit of a power struggle there' because Bill O'Brien thought, Coach O'Brien thought [Hopkins] had too much influence over the locker room. He called DeAndre Hopkins in a meeting to talk about this and, I kinda guess, hash it out.
"In that meeting, he started the meeting with telling DeAndre Hopkins this, that blew my mind when DeAndre told me this," Irvin continued. "He told DeAndre Hopkins, he said: 'Hey, the last time I had to have a meeting like this, it was with Aaron Hernandez.' I was like: 'What? He put in Aaron Hernandez in this meeting?' He said, 'Yes he did.' He said: 'Michael, that blew my mind that he would even bring that up. I've never been in any trouble. I don't know why would he equate me with Aaron Hernandez.'"
Hopkins downplayed the perceived rift between him and O'Brien following the trade to Arizona without denying the Hernandez story. He instead said that he has the "utmost respect" for O'Brien and that he enjoyed his time in Houston. However, his focus was shifting to the Cardinals. Months later, Hopkins just negotiated a massive contract extension to remain with his new team.