Are the New Orleans Saints finished making splashy offseason moves? No, not with the 2023 NFL draft ahead of them. Whether they’re looking to move up and pick a key prospect or trade picks for a marquee veteran, it shouldn’t shock anyone to see the Saints making headlines at some point in the next week.
One trade proposal comes from Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton, who likes the Saints as a destination for embattled Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals have struggled to find a trade partner for months while seeking to offload the expensive veteran, which would save them $8.15 million against the 2023 salary cap. Hiring a new general manager and head coach while taking a new organizational direction has moved Hopkins out of Arizona’s long-term plans.
An acquiring team like the Saints would be on the hook for $19.45 million in 2023 and $14.91 million in 2024, but those numbers can be manipulated. A max restructure could lower Hopkins’ 2023 cap hit to just $4.8 million. And there’s the possibility of twisting Arizona’s arm into taking on more of his salary, too. The Saints have about $11 million to work with (accounting for the money needed to sign their draft picks) so they could pull some levers and fit Hopkins under the cap.
Still, that’s a lot to invest in an experienced receiver when Michael Thomas is already on top of the depth chart. And Bleacher Report’s trade proposal has New Orleans shipping out their 2023 third-round pick at No. 71 as well as nickel corner Bradley Roby to get a deal done with the Cardinals; trading Roby would save $1.6 million against the cap, slightly easing the cost to acquire Hopkins, but then the Saints would need another corner to replace him.
We’re putting the cart before the horse here, though. Moton had this to say in making the case for a Saints-Cardinals trade centering on Hopkins:
Because of recent injuries, Thomas isn’t a reliable pass-catching target. Since 2020, he’s played in just 10 games. With Hopkins, Carr would have an accomplished playmaker opposite second-year pro Chris Olave, who had an impressive rookie campaign with 72 catches for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns.
Keep in mind that the league could suspend running back Alvin Kamara for an incident that stems from charges of conspiracy to commit battery and battery resulting in substantial bodily harm. He’s set to go on trial July 31.
Though the Saints signed running back Jamaal Williams, they may rely on their passing game with Carr under center. Hopkins, who finished 10th in receiving yards per game (79.7) this past season, would significantly upgrade New Orleans’ aerial attack and potentially elevate the Saints in a wide-open NFC South division.
In return for Hopkins, the Cardinals would receive a third-round pick and Roby, who could patch up Arizona’s secondary. This past season, he allowed a 54 percent completion rate and a 79.4 passer rating in coverage. Remember, Arizona didn’t re-sign cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. in free agency. Safety Budda Baker has requested a trade or wants a new contract, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Hey, it could be fun. Hopkins was limited to just nine games last year after serving a six-week suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, but he still saw 96 targets — catching 64 of them (66.7%) to gain 717 yards and convert 35 first downs, scoring 3 touchdown receptions. He averaged 7.1 receptions and 79.7 yards per game down the stretch. He’ll also turn 31 this summer.
If the Saints can’t find another receiving threat of their own in the draft during the first or second round, it might make sense to take a swing at Hopkins. Pairing him with Derek Carr could be good for both of them. Having a Pro Bowler to lean on if Thomas misses more time with injuries and take pressure off Olave and Rashid Shaheed isn’t the worst idea. The rising costs of veteran wideouts in recent years makes his contract more affordable than it at first appears. If the Cardinals would be willing to accept this offer, the Saints should try it. But only after exploring more-affordable alternatives at getting another receiver.