The Arizona Cardinals have added one of the NFL’s top receivers to join an intriguing young team aiming to make a big move in the NFC West.
The Cardinals acquired three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a trade that will send running back David Johnson and draft picks to the Houston Texans, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the trade hasn’t been officially announced. The NFL’s business year begins Wednesday, when the trade can be completed.
The 27-year-old Hopkins gives the Cardinals a premier receiver to add to a promising core on offense, which includes second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, receivers Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, and potentially running back Kenyan Drake, to whom Arizona gave the transition tag earlier Monday.
Several Cardinals players not surprisingly reacted positively to the move on social media. Murray responded with a “ LET’S GET RIGHT! @DeAndreHopkins ” while Kirk added “ 10 + 11 + 13 = SCARY SIGHT. Welcome to the squad bro let’s eat! ”
The Cardinals finished with a 5-10-1 record last season under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, who is known for his innovative offense. Murray was the No. 1 overall draft pick and had an encouraging rookie season, finishing with 3,722 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. But the Cardinals occasionally struggled to stretch the field vertically for big plays in the passing game. Hopkins’ arrival should help.
Hopkins has three years remaining on a five-year, $81 million deal he signed in 2017. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound veteran has been one of the most consistent receivers in the NFL over the past seven years, topping 1,000 yards receiving in five of seven seasons. He caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
The 28-year-old Johnson was an All-Pro with the Cardinals in 2016 during his second season but hasn’t been able to match those numbers in the past three years. He battled injuries for much of 2019 and finished with 345 yards rushing and 370 yards receiving.
Johnson has two years remaining on a three-year, $39 million extension he signed in 2018.
Cowboys tag Prescott
The Cowboys have placed their exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott, securing the rights to their star quarterback for an estimated $31.5 million while the sides continue working on a long-term deal.
The Cowboys announced the decision on their website about an hour before the deadline for teams to designate the franchise tag.
By using the tag on Prescott, the Cowboys will keep working to get a deal with Amari Cooper as the receiver gets set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts, currently planned for Wednesday.
The Cowboys and Prescott have been working on a deal for about a year. The two-time Pro Bowler was one of the best bargains in the NFL last season with a base salary of $2 million as a fourth-round pick in 2016.
Vikings, Cousins reach extension
The Vikings and Kirk Cousins agreed to a two-year, $66 million contract extension, giving the quarterback another eight-figure influx of guaranteed money and providing the team some immediate salary-cap relief.
The former Michigan State quarterback was entering the final season of the fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million contract he signed as a free agent in 2018. He was scheduled to count $31 million against the salary cap, but this new pact will reduce by $10 million the team’s charge for 2020, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Cousins will be guaranteed $61 million at signing. His $35 million base salary for the 2022 season would also become fully guaranteed a year from now, meaning he’s likely locked in for $96 million over the next three seasons. Either way, the ninth-year veteran will at least temporarily move back into the top five among NFL quarterbacks in average annual value, with the going rate at the critical position continuing to rise after a four-year, $118 million deal for Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill.
Cousins had a career-best season in 2019, ranking fourth in the league in passer rating (107.4), fourth in completion percentage (69.1), sixth in touchdown percentage (5.9), and seventh in average yards per attempt (8.1). He led the Vikings to a wild-card win in the playoffs at New Orleans, his first career postseason victory, and was picked as an injury replacement to his second Pro Bowl after making significant improvement in a new offensive system from his first year in Minnesota.
Falcons cut Freeman, Trufant
The Falcons will dramatically boost their financial flexibility by releasing three high-priced veterans — running back Devonta Freeman, cornerback Desmond Trufant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo.
The Falcons announced the Sambrailo move on Monday. The team is finalizing the moves with Freeman and Trufant, former Pro Bowl players who had been considered foundation players for the franchise. Financial constraints made the moves necessary.
The cuts will clear $12.15 million in salary cap space before Wednesday’s start of free agency. Before the moves, the Falcons ranked 31st in the league with less than $1 million in cap space. Following the moves, the team will have about $11.7 million in cap space.
Browns tender Hunt, near deal with Hooper
The Browns gave Kareem Hunt a second chance, and now they’re willing to dangle him.
Cleveland opened a unique and unprecedented free agency period by placing a second-round tender on Hunt, the troubled running back who played eight games last season after returning from an NFL suspension and had a minor misstep this winter.
Hunt is a restricted free agent and can negotiate with other teams about a contract. If he reaches an agreement elsewhere, the Browns can match any offer. If the team decides not to match the offer, Cleveland would receive a second-round draft pick from the team that signs him.
Given his background — Hunt was banned eight games by the league for two physical altercations when he played for Kansas City — it would be risky for a team to take a chance on him. The Cleveland native is comfortable with the Browns, who have continued to support him throughout his suspension and following a disturbing incident in January, when police found marijuana in his car after a speeding stop.
With the league conducting business despite nationwide shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Browns made another early splash in free agency by moving toward a contract with two-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper, a person familiar with the team’s plans told The Associated Press.
Hooper was one of the main free agency targets for Cleveland, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because teams can’t officially announce deals until Wednesday.
NFL Network reported the sides have agreed to terms on a package that will make Hooper the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.
The Titans have tagged Derrick Henry as their franchise player, making sure they keep the NFL rushing leader around for at least this season.
… The Raiders agreed on a contract with free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota to provide an experienced backup behind starter Derek Carr.
... The Dolphins agreed to terms on a three-year, $30 million contract with Shaq Lawson, who contributed 32 tackles and 6.5 sacks in the 15 games he played for Buffalo last season.
... The Steelers are holding onto outside linebacker Bud Dupree. The team placed the franchise tag on Dupree on Monday, just hours before the NFL-mandated deadline for teams to use the designation.
... The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green, giving them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the seven-time Pro Bowler who is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history and would be a vital asset for breaking in a new quarterback.
... The Chiefs placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones, then exercised club options on running back Damien Williams and linebacker Damien Wilson as the NFL’s negotiating period opened with a frenzy ahead of free agency later in the week.
... Linebacker Christian Kirksey has agreed to terms on a deal with the Packers less than a week after the Browns released him.
… Free agent tackle Jack Conklin (Michigan State) agreed to a three-year, $42 million contract with the Browns. A 2016 All-Pro as a rookie, he will get $30 million guaranteed and earn $20 million in his first year.
… Miami made Byron Jones the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback, surpassing his new teammate, Xavien Howard. The Dolphins upgraded their pass rush by reaching agreements with former Lions linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Shaq Lawson, and swung a deal with offensive lineman Ereck Flowers.