The Arizona Cardinals will be without their DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the 2022 season. Hopkins was busted for taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and was handed a suspension from the league on Monday. While Kyler Murray's relationship with the team is uneasy, the loss of Hopkins is massive.
However, NFL analyst Kyle Brandt thinks Murray will benefit contractually from DeAndre Hopkins' suspension. On Tuesday's episode of Good Morning Football, Brandt said the Cardinals could feel pressured into giving Murray the contract extension and money he's demanded this offseason. Brandt said:
“I think the suspension might help him get paid. It doesn't hurt if you're going into camp. And we're like, ‘oh my god is Kyler maybe not going to show up, and we don't have DeAndre? What product are we putting on the field? Maybe we gotta give Kyler 40 million bucks a season to just get him in here because like, we want to go to the Super Bowl this year. This is not a building year. This is the go time year."
Brandt is accurate when saying that even without DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals view themselves as Super Bowl contenders.
If Murray holds out or doesn't show up by the start of the season, Arizona will be in serious trouble. Therefore, paying him (even if it's reluctantly) would be a way to salvage the season. Brandt said:
"So in the chess match of all this, knowing for a fact that our star wide receiver is out for six weeks. The idea that we might also not have our star quarterback if he holds out. We can’t handle this, I think we need to get Kyler in here.’"
Brandt may be onto something, as the Cardinals seem closer to an extension for Murray than ever. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was on the Rich Eisen Show Monday and said he's planning to get Murray's extension done this summer.
To conclude his point, Brandt used an analogy of marriage counseling to depict the relationship between DeAndre Hopkins, Murray, and the Cardinals. Brandt said:
"It's like in the counseling thing with Kyler and the team being the husband and wife. DeAndre is like the kid who got arrested or something or had some issues. They have to spend more time with him, and it can bring you closer as a husband and wife. I think that this actually might help Kyler with his contract.”
The Cardinals collapsed in the 2021 season without DeAndre Hopkins
Cardinals fans received flashbacks to their team's collapse in the 2021 season when Hopkins suffered an injury. The Cardinals were 8-2 to start last season and were pegged as Super Bowl favorites and favorites to win the NFC West.
DeAndre Hopkins had 572 receiving yards and eight touchdowns before suffering the season-ending knee injury that sunk the Cardinals' season. They finished below .500% the rest of the season and had an embarrassing first-round exit in the playoffs.
The Cardinals addressed the position by trading for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown. Time will tell whether Brown, Zack Ertz, and James Conner will be able to step up in place of Hopkins until he returns.