How DeAndre Hopkins’ free agent decision could impact Falcons

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The biggest name on the free agent market is DeAndre Hopkins after the Cardinals released the star receiver over the weekend after months of trade speculation.

Hopkins revealed during an appearance on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast a few of the quarterbacks he would love to play with — Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert.

Nowhere on that list is the Falcons’ Desmond Ridder, so why am I talking about it? It could potentially impact the club.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN listed Atlanta as a ‘wild card’ landing spot, “Atlanta has been unafraid to spend this offseason while enjoying the fruits of a quarterback on a rookie contract. Its pass-catching core is young, but the presence of Hopkins could spice up Arthur Smith’s offense.”

However, that is extremely unlikely. The Falcons aren’t likely to be at the top of Hopkins’ free agent wishlist because of Ridder’s unproven presence around the league. Still, the Falcons could stand to benefit.

Fowler included the Jets among the best fits for the All-Pro receiver, noting New York only has $6.9 million in cap space but can create more by reworking the salaries of C.J. Mosely and Corey Davis. However, I’d argue adding Hopkins to a receiver room of Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and Davis would be an extremely crowded position group.

That doesn’t even include Randall Cobb and Denzel Mims, along with tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah. Deep is an understatement for that receiving core. Six receivers, including DeAndre Hopkins, is unusual, even in today’s pass-happy NFL.

To me, the obvious corresponding move would be to cut bait with Corey Davis, whom the Falcons could scoop up. Davis would bolster a thin receiver room in Atlanta, and New York would instantly create enough cap space to sign Hopkins, who would catch passes from Aaron Rodgers, a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

New York can save over $10 million against the cap while incurring just $666,667 in dead money. Davis’ best season came in 2020 with the Titans, when Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee. Davis hauled in 65 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and five scores that year.

That’s a lot of dominos that need to fall, but it’s in the realm of possibilities.

Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire


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