Tagged in: DeAndre Hopkins

J.J. Watt agrees to two-year contract with Arizona Cardinals

Free-agent pass-rusher J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, the team revealed Monday.

Terms were not disclosed, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $31 million and includes $23 million guaranteed.

“I’m excited to get started,” Watt said on the tarmac after the plane landed. “Very excited to get started, get to work, get to know the people of Arizona.”

Watt, 31, was released by the Houston Texans, who granted his request on Feb. 12, ending his 10-year run with the franchise.

Four days later, Watt’s former Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins posted a photo of himself and Watt photoshopped in a Cardinals uniform on Instagram with the caption: “Let’s finish what we started…” Hopkins reacted to Monday’s news by tweeting: “Life is good in Arizona!”

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Watt will reunite with Vance Joseph, the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, who was the Texans’ defensive backs coach during Watt’s first three campaigns in Houston.

In Arizona, Watt will be paired with fellow pass-rusher Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL in sacks since he was drafted in the first round in 2012 with 97. Second during that span is Watt with 95.5.

Watt’s addition meant minimal variations to the Cardinals’ odds for the 2021 season from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Their odds to win the Super Bowl stays 40-1 and to win the NFC remain 20-1. Arizona’s odds to win the NFC West moved from 7-1 to 6-1, still the longest odds of the four teams in the division.

“The one thing I can promise you is I’m going to work my ass off every single day to make you proud,” Watt said. “Very proud to be a part of the ‘Bird Gang’ and the ‘Red Sea.'”

In 2020, Watt ranked 15th out of 119 qualified pass-rushers in pass rush win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He concluded the season with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown. He has been plagued with injuries recently, having played 16 games in a season only twice since 2015.

After the Texans drafted Watt with the No. 11 pick in 2011, he became the face of the franchise, winning three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2012 to ’15. Watt is one of three players to collect that award three times. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time first-team All-Pro, Watt was by far the most productive pass-rusher in Texans history with 101 career sacks.

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DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals Agree to Reported 2-Year

The Arizona Cardinals have signed receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a two-year extension, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal is worth $54.5 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The $27.25 million per year is the highest annual salary in league history for a non-quarterback. The deal includes $42.75 million in guarantees.

Hopkins also told reporters his contract contains a no-trade clause and a clause that won’t let him to take the franchise tag.

Added to the three years left on his present contract, the extension gives him $94 million over the next five seasons for an average of $18.8 million per year, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He is now signed through 2024.

Arizona acquired Hopkins this offseason in a trade with the Houston Texans, also receiving a fourth-round pick, in exchange for David Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020 and a fourth-round pick in 2021.

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Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said the receiver’s interest in a new deal caused the trade.

“It was in the best interest of our team,” the coach said in April. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal, and he wanted a raise.”

The 28-year-old only has a $12.5 million cap hit for 2020, which ranks 14th among receivers, per Spotrac.

Ed Werder of ESPN reported he was seeking $18-20 million per year, which is what he got when added to his current deal.

Hopkins has been one of the top players at his position since entering the league in 2013, earning four Pro Bowl selections and making the All-Pro First Team in each of the last three years. He had over 100 catches in 2018 and 2019 and has remained durable with only two missed regular-season games in seven years.

He will play a crucial role in the Cardinals passing attack alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, trying to provide some stability for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray.

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Arizona Cardinals’ trade for DeAndre Hopkins will be official by draft

No, the DeAndre Hopkins trade to the Cardinals isn’t yet finalized, with physicals for the players involved remaining a holdup for now in this world turned sideways by the coronavirus.

But Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, during a Zoom press conference Tuesday morning, said he is not concerned that the trade wouldn’t be completed before the April 23 draft.

With 2020 draft picks being swapped as part of the agreement, reaching a conclusion to the trade is important.

“Those (moves) aren’t official as far as I know at this point, but we’ll get it done,” Kingsbury said. “There is obviously the medical (part) and medical personnel have much bigger fish to fry at this point, so it’s been slower than it would be, but I have no doubts it will be done before the draft.”

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The trade, which has been approved by both the Cardinals and Texans pending those physicals, will send Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Both Hopkins and Johnson need to pass physicals for the trade to be officially finalized. That remains an expectation of when and not if.

“I don’t want to get too far into it because it’s not official yet,” Kingsbury stated in a session after he gave blood at State Farm Stadium. “But obviously, (Hopkins) is a tremendous player, been healthy, played at a high level for a long time. We’re all excited about it.”

The Cardinals and Texans agreed to the trade on March 16, two days before free agency started. The deal came together quickly, Kingsbury said.

“Steve [Keim, the team’s general manager] called me down to his office and said we had something in the works,” Kingsbury added, “and they worked through it and got it done.”

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