Cardinals follow LA Rams lead, release WR DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins Arizona Cardinals
DeAndre Hopkins Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The LA Rams may be pioneering a new strategy among NFL teams this offseason, purging the payroll books of highly compensated players this season with the stated objective of freeing up salary cap space for plenty of discretionary salary cap space for the 2024 NFL season, but at least one NFL team is already following suit. The Arizona Cardinals are embarking on their own journey of clearing the roster in 2023. How do I know?

The Arizona Cardinals just released WR DeAndre Hopkins. That's how.

While that is a story unto itself, there will be a myriad of accounts about the factors that led to Hopkins release. But our plan is to take a different approach to this turn of events. Here's why:

I hate to give kudos to an NFC West rival, but Arizona Cardinals' new GM Monti Ossenfort has put on the shoes of making Cardinals roster decisions and has already taken some huge steps in the right direction. He made a series of impressive draft-day trades that may have landed the Cardinals two of the top five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Ossenfort inherited a team that had plummeted in terms of competitiveness and was shackled with a new contract with a quarterback who refused to finish out a playoff game. Despite a difficult situation, Ossenfort appears to be up to the challenge. In fact, he has set up the Cardinals to land a top quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft, and in the process may be looking for the opportunity to part ways with QB Kyler Murray at the end of this season.

This brings us to this latest decision by the Cardinals. DeAndre Hopkins is still a very dangerous offensive weapon, but he has been injured in his past two seasons with the Cardinals. As a result, he has competed in just 35 of 50 regular season games for the team in the past three seasons. Despite missing nearly half of the 2022 season, Hopkins remained the team's top receiver with 717 yards and three touchdowns.

That will be a huge impact on the Cardinals' offense, which must now rely upon Marquise Brown to lead their receivers in 2023. But it positions the Cardinals into excellent shape for 2023, with two top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, and projected available salary cap space of over $40 million in 2024.

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While the Cardinals appear to be content to follow the Rams' strategy in 2023, one thing is quite clear. The Cardinals may not know what the future brings, but their GM Monti Ossenfort is committed to sticking very close to the LA Rams until he finds out.