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The DeAndre Hopkins-Arizona Cardinals saga finally ended last week. The team released the star receiver after months of speculation and attempts to trade him. Several teams are interested and Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson hopes his team is one of them.
Watson and Hopkins teamed up in Houston for three seasons from 2017-19. Those were arguably the best three seasons in Hopkins’ career, as he earned First Team All-Pro honors each year.
Hopkins caught 315 passes for over 4,100 yards and 31 touchdowns across those three seasons. Prior to Watson’s arrival in Houston, Hopkins earned Pro Bowl honors just once (2015).
Watson attended a charity golf tournament in Cleveland over the weekend, according to ESPN.
The media asked Watson about the free agent wide receiver.
“That’s kind of out of my range of things,” Watson said, according to ESPN. “All I can do is make a call and see what happens.”
“Me and D-Hop, we just naturally talk,” Watson continued. “We’ve been talking since the Houston days. … He’s always been a brother of mine. … Our connection, our relationship has always been great. … Of course, we would love to have him. He knows that.”
The Browns currently have Amari Cooper on the roster, whom they traded for last offseason from the Dallas Cowboys. They also acquired Elijah Moore in a trade with the New York Jets earlier this offseason.
Cooper is the only receiver on the roster with a 1,000-yard receiving season, and he’s done it five times over his nine-year NFL career — including last season with the Browns.
Hopkins has six 1,000+ yard receiving seasons, though none over the past two years.
Still, he represents a significant upgrade at wide receiver to a team that could use it.
Recently, Hopkins discussed exactly what he’s looking for in his next — and possibly last — NFL team.
“What I want is stable management upstairs. I think that’s something that I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston to being in Arizona. I’ve been through three to four GMs in my career,” Hopkins said on the I Am Athlete podcast.
The Cleveland Browns GM, Andrew Berry, is just 36-years-old. He’s been with the team since 2020.
“[I also want] a QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him, pushes not just himself but people around him. I don’t need a great QB – I’ve done it with subpar QBs – just a QB who loves the game like I do. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships,” Hopkins also added.
If anyone knows whether or not Watson checks that box, it would be Hopkins.
With regards to defense, the Browns have four-time All-Pro Myles Garrett up front. They also traded for three-time Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith earlier this offseason.
The Browns are a team that is certainly in “win-now” mode.
It’s up to Hopkins to decide if they have the pieces to get it done if he comes on board.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak