When the Arizona Cardinals released DeAndre Hopkins yesterday, leaving them stuck with a hefty cap hit and no return for a player who could potentially be a Pro Bowler elsewhere, they made it abundantly clear what their plans are for the 2023 season.
The Cardinals are going to be tanking.
In a season where they are already expected to be without Kyler Murray for a large chunk of the year, releasing Hopkins sets the Cardinals up to be a really awful team.
While the move just about guarantees that 2023 is going to be a really tough year for Cardinals fans, especially considering the Cardinals decided to make the move a few weeks after their tickets went on sale.
While releasing Hopkins certainly wasn’t what the team’s fans wanted to see, it does set the franchise up to do something we’ve only seen one other time in NFL history.
Following Hopkins’ release, the Cardinals are now projected by many to end up with the 1st and 2nd overall picks in next year’s NFL Draft.
The only team that has ever done this before was the Indianapolis Colts at the ’92 draft.
Unfortunately for the Colts, it didn’t quite work out for them when they had the first two picks.
They spent the first pick on defensive end Steve Emtman, who only played 18 games for them over 3 years. Their second pick was linebacker Quentin Coryatt, who had some solid seasons in 6 years with the Colts, but definitely didn’t have the impact you’d like from a 2nd overall pick.
For the Cardinals to actually end up with both picks they will need some help from the Houston Texans, who traded their 2024 1st rounder to Arizona to move up to pick 3 this year. The Texans have definitely made some big improvements this offseason, but still clearly have more work to do to become competitive again.
Luckily for the Cardinals, next year’s draft has one thing the ’92 draft didn’t. It has a pair of elite quarterback prospects.
This gives the Cardinals some options for what they can do at the top of the draft. There are some who believe they’ll draft Caleb Williams with the 1st pick and trade Kyler Murray away. They could then take Marvin Harrison Jr 2nd and completely revamp their offense.
Even if they trade the 2nd pick for a haul and move back to 3, they’d be only the 4th team to ever draft twice in the first 3 picks.
However they end up spending the picks, it’s clear the Arizona Cardinals are planning to pick 1st overall next year and they’ll be hoping things fall the right way to have complete control of the top of the draft.