ARIZONA, USA — Editor's note: The above video was published on an earlier date.
The Cardinals released Deandre Hopkins Friday morning, announcing it in a tweet.
The team followed up with an identical one-sentence statement to the media.
It was expected that the Cardinals would part ways with Hopkins, who has made a number of passive-aggressive comments about the organization, during the off-season. But most people expected the team would trade the five-time Pro Bowl receiver, rather than releasing him outright.
Hopkins made waves earlier this week when he went on the "I Am Athlete" podcast and listed the five quarterbacks he'd most like to catch passes from. Cardinals' quarterback Kyler Murray was not on the list.
12Sports' Cam Cox predicted this outcome a month ago -- based on the dry trade market for a player who had been traded twice for attitude problems and the NFL's salary cap rules.
Arizona made the move three seasons after acquiring Hopkins in a blockbuster trade with Houston and eventually signing him to a $54.5 million contract extension through 2024. The soon-to-be 31-year-old Hopkins would have counted close to $31 million against the cap this season.
His cap hit in dead money is $22.6 million. The good news for the Cardinals is he'll be off the books for 2024, when the team figures to be more competitive.
Hopkins — still one of the NFL's elite receivers when healthy — is free to sign with any team. His 11,298 career yards receiving already rank 36th in league history.
Arizona is rebuilding under new head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort and keeping Hopkins' expensive contract didn't make much sense, particularly because franchise quarterback Kyler Murray is likely to miss part of the upcoming season while recovering from a knee injury.
The Cardinals tried for months to trade Hopkins, but his expensive contract made that difficult.
Hopkins had 221 catches for 2,696 yards and 17 touchdowns in 35 games with Arizona. His most famous catch was a last-second heave from Murray in the end zone against the Buffalo Bills in 2020 that became known as “Hail Murray.”
His 2020 season was his best in the desert. He caught a franchise-record 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
For a few months, the Murray-Hopkins combo looked like it would grow into one of the most prolific in the NFL. The Cardinals started the 2021 season with a 10-2 record thanks to their high-powered offense, but Hopkins and Murray both battled injuries in the latter half of the year and the team faded, barely making the playoffs before getting blown out by the Rams in the wild-card round.
Hopkins never got on track in 2022, starting the year with a six-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The Cardinals finished with a 4-13 record, leading to the firing of coach Kliff Kingsbury. The team also parted ways with GM Steve Keim.
The city of Phoenix is home to five major professional sports league teams; The NFL's Arizona Cardinals, NBA's Phoenix Suns, WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL's Arizona Coyotes.
The Cardinals have made the State Farm Stadium in Glendale their home turf and the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix is home to both the Suns and the Mercury. The Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers also play at the Footprint. Phoenix has a soccer team with the USL's Phoenix Rising FC.
The Valley hosts multiple major sporting events on a yearly basis, including college football's Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl; the PGA Tour’s highest-attended event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open; NASCAR events each spring and fall; and Cactus League Spring Training.
Stay up-to-date on the latest Arizona sports stories with 12News.