Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins Under Contract for Five Years

Howard Balzer

Everyone knew this day was coming when the Cardinals acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans in March.

Yet, no one knew exactly at the time how the pandemic would affect the process or that general manager Steve Keim would be involved in what he called “probably one of the most unique negotiations that I've been through.”

That’s because Hopkins decided to negotiate the deal himself. When asked about Keim’s reaction when he told the general manager his plan, Hopkins chuckled and said, “He really didn't show too much emotion. He was just like, ‘Yeah, man. Let's get it done.’”

So they did, as Hopkins saw it is a learning experience for what he hopes to pursue when his career is over.

Keim elaborated, “In my eight years as general manager, there's only one player that I've negotiated with directly and that was (wide receiver) Larry Fitzgerald. And I can tell you that was no picnic either. But it was a great process for me. I got to know DeAndre as a person even more through this process. At times we can agree to disagree in a negotiation, but more than anything, both sides remained positive with one common goal in mind, and that was to get an extension that not only addressed his needs, but also gave us the flexibility moving forward to continue to sign our core players and keep sustainable success.”

Hopkins concurred as he embraced the process. He said, “There was no mental stress from the way that we negotiated. We negotiated in good faith knowing that we will get this deal done. So, there was never a lot of animosity going back and forth or mental stress on my part. Throughout this process, everything was positive with the organization, with Steve and those guys. And I've learned a lot not just on the field, but off the field.”

However, Hopkins did acknowledge the mental approach necessary to understand what he was doing.

Noting that he did about 90 percent of the negotiating himself, Hopkins said, “It was a lot of reading, a lot of nights staying up late learning the language and terminology of everything. My advisors, my team that I had, those guys were with me and have been with me for years now. And they're not just advisors, but also family and mentors to me ... It's a small group of people, but we knew that this is what we wanted to do going forward. And we made it happen.”

As for the importance of handling the negotiations himself, Hopkins said, “It’s ownership and me believing in myself and my abilities to study the terminology of contracts, me knowing where I want to be after football, so why not? I know that one day I want to be part of an organization to help build it, so I felt like this was a good time to learn and study everything that hopefully one day I'll be doing.

“I think also just showing other players that you can get things done yourself if you believe in yourself and have the right team around you. Agents are great. There is no knock on agents or nothing against the agent that I had previously (Todd France). There was no bad ties with them and it was just something I wanted to do myself.”

About the only thing that suffered during the dog days of training camp was his yoga, Hopkins said, noting that he did “a lot of meditating during the day. I haven't been able to do my yoga. I had to study my plays and study contracts, so it was a lot of meditation and talking to people that I have in my circle like my mom; talking to her daily just calming me down.

“We really don't get too up and down about things; just staying level-headed and praying. And just good blessing.”

He clearly had a goal of getting the deal accomplished before the opener and prior to most of the preparation for Sunday’s game at San Francisco, his impending Cardinals debut.

“It's very good to get the contract out of the way, just having security and knowing that there is some guaranteed money and I'm getting paid for my work,” Hopkins said. So, to get that out of the way, it feels good and the way that the team went about it, it's even better.”

Hopkins stood firm in seeking a contract that has a no-trade clause and prevents the team from placing the franchise tag on him if he becomes a free agent at some point.

He confirmed the contract has both of those elements, saying, “That was very big because I know this is a place that I want to be and this is an organization that I want to help build and become a contender for the years to come as long as I'm here. And for me, that was something that was big and really something that my team also thought that was big for the way that I play the game and what I bring to the game, being part of a team long term and help building it is how I want my legacy to be remembered.”

He emphasized the winning aspect when asked how much it means to him and his family to be the highest-paid receiver based on the yearly average of the new money in the contract. Terms of the extension were not announced by the Cardinals in accordance with club policy, but the reported value of the deal gives Hopkins the highest non-quarterback contract in league history, with an average per-year value of $27.25 million.

“My family and I, we really don't get too involved in money or statistics or what other people think," Hopkins said. "We come from a small town; Central, South Carolina. We grind, we work and that's our mindset to go out and get the job done however you have to. We don't complain. That's how my mom raised us. My siblings and I just go out and work. You're being paid to do something, so give it your all and that's what she tells me every day.

“But obviously they're happy that I'm being paid what I deserve for my work and what I put in, but they want a championship just as much as I do. I don't think my family goes a week without talking about a Super Bowl, a championship. We like to speak things into existence and they're just happy that I'm part of an organization that appreciates my talent.”

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