PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles had a chance to acquire star receiver DeAndre Hopkins before he was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals last week, and declined. Now comes the hard part: proving that was the right move.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported, the Eagles and the Houston Texans talked about a potential Hopkins trade, but Philadelphia decided it wasn't the right course of action after adding up all the different elements.
That may seem a tad crazy given that Hopkins would add instant rocket fuel to an offense that slogged its way through much of the 2019 season. The Eagles didn't have a single wideout reach the 500-yard mark last year due to injury and decline in play. They haven't added anyone since free agency opened even with starting slot receiver Nelson Agholor leaving for the Las Vegas Raiders and Alshon Jeffery's future with the team in question. Hopkins, 27, had more receiving yards (1,165) in 2019 than the Eagles' top three receivers combined (1,107). With 31 touchdowns over the past three seasons, he is the exact kind of game-changing playmaker that quarterback Carson Wentz needs to reach his full potential.
"The Texans did talk to the Eagles at one point about DeAndre Hopkins. The Eagles decided that paying the Texans for him & then Hopkins' contract, they believed it wasn't worth it" - @AdamSchefter on the DeAndre Hopkins trade— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) March 18, 2020
And the asking price proved to be more than reasonable. Houston sent Hopkins and a late-round pick to Arizona for a second-round pick and running back David Johnson, who carries a 2020 cap hit of $10.2 million. The consensus is the Cardinals got a steal.
Sounds great, right? So why didn't the Eagles bite?
For clarity, it's best to zoom the lens out and look at the big picture. The Eagles have more than $125 million of cap space dedicated to their top 10 players, accounting for 67% of their overall cap spending, according to ESPN Roster Management. They need to find ways to balance that with younger, less expensive players who can make an impact on the field.
Like most teams, they believe the 2020 NFL draft class has a wealth of wide receiver talent in it. Whether it's Henry Ruggs, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk or another high-ranking wideout, they'll have an opportunity to score a player in the first round (with the No. 21 pick) who has the ability to contribute immediately. Pair one of those budding stars (and, perhaps, a receiver selected later in the draft) with Jackson, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and running back Miles Sanders, and you have the makings of a potent offense.
Plus, there's a catch when it comes to bringing in Hopkins: He's pushing for a new megadeal even though he has three years remaining on his five-year, $81 million contract. Ripping up that deal and giving him a new one would set a precedent the Eagles have long tried to avoid because of the Pandora's box it could open in respect to other players on the roster.
The Eagles are in a different era now that Wentz is being paid big money (a four-year extension he signed last summer for $128 million). As with other teams with a franchise quarterback, their finances are a little tighter and tough decisions need to be made.
All things considered, the Eagles felt this was the right path to take. Now, they need to hit big in the draft in order to ease the sting when watching the inevitable fireworks that Hopkins will be setting off in Arizona this fall.