DeAndre Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, is unsigned and eager to suit up for another NFL team. Just don't count on the Cowboys, who entered the offseason in pursuit of pass-catching help, joining the sweepstakes. Coach Mike McCarthy when asked about Hopkins this week, saying he "really likes the look of our group."
Is it the right approach from a team seemingly all-in on making a run this year? Let's make the case for Dallas shying away from a potential Hopkins pursuit, and explore why America's Team might also be making a mistake:
Why the Cowboys don't need Hopkins
Let's start with Hopkins himself: The name and reputation are there, but are the recent results? Two years ago, D-Hop would've been a no-brainer of a target, fresh off four straight 1,100-yard seasons. Since 2021, he's played just 19 total games, failed to clear 750 yards in a season, and posted a career-low yards-per-catch (11.2) mark. Soon to be 31, and conceivably seeking a pretty penny after the injury prone Odell Beckham Jr. secured $15 million from the Ravens, he'd likely be an expensive higher-risk rental.
It's also unclear whether Hopkins would stay content in a secondary role. The Cowboys offense is set to reembrace its run game with McCarthy taking over play-calling, and when it does air it out, quarterback Dak Prescott already has a trusted No. 1 target in CeeDee Lamb, who will be eager for his own high-volume opportunity while eligible for a new deal. Though Michael Gallup still has to prove he can stay healthy, the Cowboys also already have a new veteran sidekick in Brandin Cooks, who's been equally as productive -- not to mention speedier -- in recent years.
Why the Cowboys should be interested
Everything else about Dallas' offseason suggests Hopkins should be on the radar, with or without a relatively high price tag. Between tagging Tony Pollard, acquiring Cooks and also trading for Stephon Gilmore, the Cowboys have operated as if they're bent on seizing the NFC East in 2023. That might not sound surprising, but considering that Cooks and Gilmore are both 30 or over (or soon to be) and slotting into starting jobs, it's clear they're more focused on maximizing their current (expiring?) window with Prescott than looking far down the line. In that case, you could do a whole lot worse than renting Hopkins for a year or two.
And besides, even if Cooks proves to be a worthwhile partner for Lamb on the outside, since when are NFL teams prohibited from bolstering depth at a premium position? Dalton Schultz's departure at tight end opens up some potential red-zone snaps that would fit a route-runner of Hopkins' size and technique very well, and 2022 was a prime example of what happens when Prescott's supporting cast isn't deep enough downfield. Even Hopkins at 75 percent would likely be a clear upgrade of whomever Dallas deems WR3 entering the season, and it's not like this team is utterly devoid of salary cap space, either.