A respected Carolina Panthers insider poured cold water on any potential interest the team might have in acquiring free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in 2023.
Speculation is running wild right now surrounding DeAndre Hopkins and where the All-Pro wide receiver might end up next season. The Arizona Cardinals' decision to release the prolific pass-catcher is the clearest sign that they could be willing to sacrifice short-term success for long-term gain, with many projecting the team to have the top-two selections in the 2024 NFL Draft unless the Houston Texans make significant strides under DeMeco Ryans.
That is inconsequential to Hopkins, who's glad to be off their books and ready to begin a new chapter. While there was almost no trade interest in the player thanks in no small part to the financial commitment involved, that won't be the case now.
Whether the Carolina Panthers involve themselves in the Hopkins sweepstakes remains to be seen. The benefits are obvious - especially for Bryce Young's important transition from college to the pros - but the Pro Bowler might not want to take his chances on a team that's unlikely to be in the Super Bowl hunt next season.
Carolina Panthers not considered landing spot for DeAndre Hopkins
Of course, money talks, and the Panthers have more than most to offer Hopkins if this is something they choose to pursue. This also provides the wideout with a chance to end his playing career closer to home, which holds obvious weight.
These factors only add to the intrigue and Hopkins would instantly legitimize the project Frank Reich and Scott Fitterer are putting together in Carolina. But if someone like the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills gets involved, the chances of him joining the Panthers are non-existent.
This was a sentiment echoed by Joe Person of The Athletic, who highlighted the reasons behind some serious doubts as to whether or not the Panthers would legitimately pursue Hopkins to strengthen their wide receiver room in 2023.
"Will Scott Fitterer kick the tires? Sure. The Panthers general manager has never tried to walk back his “in on every deal” statement. Will the Panthers sign the soon-to-be 31-year-old receiver? I seriously doubt it. Other than the fact that [DeAndre] Hopkins played at Clemson, I just don’t see this as a fit for either side. Hopkins wants to go to a Super Bowl contender, and the Panthers aren’t there yet. From the Panthers’ perspective, Fitterer has already made several moves through free agency and the draft to reconstruct the receivers in the wake of DJ Moore’s departure. And my sense is there’s not much interest in forking over a sizable chunk of money for an aging wideout who missed nearly half of the Cardinals’ games in the past two seasons."- Joe Person, The Athletic
The Panthers' brass seems happy with what they have right now. Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and Jonathan Mingo should all assist in some capacity after arriving during the offseason, with Laviska Shenault Jr. and Terrace Marshall Jr. also coming with high upside within a more creative offensive scheme led by Reich and Thomas Brown.
Hopkins would make almost any team better. He might be coming to the tail end of his career currently, but the player gets open in a phone booth and has the length to give opposing cornerbacks nightmares for good measure.
Carolina should put in a call to find out where things stand if nothing else. Just what they're saving all this money for is anyone's guess when one considers Brian Burns' extension won't impact their 2023 salary cap.
It would be a bombshell if Hopkins ended up in Carolina all things considered. Person is more clued up than most when it comes to what goes on within the building, so the fact he's not convinced whatsoever tells its own story.