The Arizona Cardinals looked to make a move to get second-year quarterback Kyler Murray another weapon. So, last March, they went after the biggest fish on the market.
Arizona traded a second-round pick and running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans for receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-rounder, which turned into defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence.
The reaction in Houston was not kind.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell said his first reaction was to worry about whether Hopkins lost a limb. Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward tweeted: "Man we need (to) start drug testing some of these GM’s and coaches."
Hopkins didn't get a full offseason to work in his new offense due to the pandemic, and he was banged up during part of training camp. Still, he made an early impression with 14 grabs for 151 yards in his debut against San Francisco. He had 130 yards receiving in three of his first five games.
He showed the skill that earned him three All-Pro first-team selections. He was a threat at all three levels, with an innate ability to get open with stout route running plus great hands and athleticism to bring down any pass that came near him.
However, the Cardinals finished the season 2-5 to miss the playoffs, and while Hopkins had monstrous games during the two wins with over 305 yards combined, he never had more than 55 yards in any of the losses.
For the season, Hopkins had just one performance eclipse 55 yards in eight losses. Meanwhile, he averaged 120 yards receiving in Arizona's eight wins.
The offense struggled to find consistency in the latter half of the year, and Hopkins' numbers replicate that. The Cardinals could not get a running game going, which put them in more passing downs, making them predictable.
Despite the offense sputtering late compared to the first half of the year, Hopkins put together one of the greatest individual seasons in franchise history, breaking the team record with 115 receptions.
He made the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro second team, as he was tied for second in the league in catches and was third in receiving yards.
Moment of the year:
There were plenty of highlight plays for Hopkins in Year 1 of his Cardinals tenure. His one-armed touchdown snag against the Jets in Week 5 and his over-the-shoulder touchdown reception in Week 7 against Seattle were strong candidates until Week 10.
The "Hail Murray," a game-winning 45-yard heave from quarterback Kyler Murray to Hopkins to beat the eventual 13-3 Buffalo Bills, won the year's Bridgestone Clutch Performance Play of the Year.
Hopkins leaped and made the catch over three defenders, which caused this reaction:
Contract: Hopkins still has two more years on his previous deal, which will be a $12.5 million cap hit in 2021 and then $25.05 million in 2022. He signed a two-year extension with Arizona before the 2020 season worth $54.5 million through 2024.
Season performance grade: A-minus
Hopkins was mostly brilliant once again, but three fumbles were a career high and five penalties was the second-most by a Cardinals receiving weapon after tight end Dan Arnold's seven.
That being said, he justified all of the flack the Texans received for trading him, and is set up to be a staple in the Cardinals offense with Murray going forward.