Former Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins is now a free agent, and though the veteran is about to turn 31, he's expected to have several suitors. The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills are considered to be two of the favorites to land Hopkins, but the Cleveland Browns would be an . The Browns' current top target, four-time Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper, declared Tuesday that he would welcome Hopkins with open arms when told quarterback Deshaun Watson endorsed the signing last week.
"I didn't see that, but who wouldn't? DeAndre has been a very great player in this league," Cooper said Tuesday at his minicamp media availability. "Obviously, they have a lot of great chemistry. If I was him, I'd want the same thing."
Hopkins' former Houston Texans quarterback of course signed a fully guaranteed, five-year $230 million contract with the Browns last offseason. Could Cleveland make a move for the wideout? That's what head coach Kevin Stefanski was asked by reporters on May 30.
"I really, really like our wide receiver room," Stefanski said, via Cleveland.com. "I love the guys that are in there. Andrew (Berry) and his crew are always looking at every avenue and that type of thing , so I won't comment specifically on the player other than to say that I really like our roster."
Watson told reporters "of course" he would love to have Hopkins in Cleveland, per 247Sports, but echoed what Stefanski said in saying it was up to the Browns' front office.
Watson reflected on his long friendship with Hopkins, which started well before his professional days.
"Well, me and D-Hop, we just naturally talk," Watson said on May 30 (per the Orange and Brown Report). "We been talking since the Houston days. And then also whenever he left for Arizona, we were always talking, so he's always been a brother of mine since I was coming out of high school. Our connection, our relationship has always been great."
Even though the addition of Hopkins could cut into Cooper's individual production, -- he led the Browns in all receiving categories with 78 catches, 1,160 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns on 132 targets -- the soon-to-be 29-year-old pass-catcher would prefer victories to individual glory.
"With DeAndre, he's pretty unstoppable with the way he uses his hands and his body to position himself well to make the catch," Cooper said. "So, it would be pretty good. You add a great receiver like that, that's probably going to happen because there's only one ball — everybody's got to get their touches. So, as long as it's helping us win, I wouldn't have a problem with it."
I mean, the more the merrier,the more guys who can make plays, the more plays that are going to be made," Cooper continued. "It's just that simple. So, I think that's the philosophy behind it."
Watson said DHop is well aware that the Browns would love to add him to their roster, but getting him there is far beyond the quarterback's pay grade.
"I know there's a lot of things swirling around in the media of him possibly coming to Cleveland,'' Watson said. "For me, my answer to that is of course we would love to have him. He knows that. We had a lot of connections. But that's kind of out of my range of things of kind of coordinating things. All I can do is make a call and see what happens and let A.B. [general manager Andrew Berry] do the rest."
One potential hurdle the Browns will have to overcome when it comes to potentially adding Hopkins is money, as Cleveland has $14.9 million in cap space, per Over The Cap. Veteran wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who didn't play a single snap in 2022 while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Super Bowl LVI with the Rams, received a one-year, fully-guaranteed $15 million deal from Cleveland's AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens earlier this offseason. That complicates negotiations with Hopkins since it's incredibly reasonable for him to ask for more since his career production has well out-paced Beckham Jr.'s.
Hopkins totaled the eighth-most receiving yards through a player's first 10 seasons in NFL history (11.298) and the fourth-most catches after a player's first decade in the league(853). He averaged 7.1 catches per game (fourth in the NFL) and 79.7 receiving yards per game (10th in NFL) despite only playing in nine games in 2022. He's a three-time First-Team All-Pro and been selected to the Pro Bowl five times in his 10 NFL seasons.
The Browns current wide receiving corps is headlined by Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, but Cleveland also added Elijah Moore via trade, and Cedric Tillman in the draft. It's fair to say the Browns' offense underperformed in 2022. Cleveland ranked No. 25 or worse in points per game and yards per game with Watson as the starter. The Browns were in the top 12 in both categories from Weeks 1-12, when Jacoby Brissett was under center.