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Tim Graham says “DeAndre Hopkins probably isn’t joining the Buffalo Bills”

The only thing cloudier than Western New York weather is this situation with Hopkins

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Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Contrary to the endless barrage of posts on social media right now, the Buffalo Bills appear to be on the outside looking in trying to land free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. General manager Brandon Beane lack meaningful funds, the likes of which will be necessary to sign Hopkins. In Tim Graham’s latest article with The Athletic he points out that the Bills are currently less than $2 million under the salary cap (as of June 1, 2023) — after officially signing free-agent offensive tackle Brandon Shell to a one-year deal.

Per Graham:

Three executives from around the NFL, some with direct knowledge of what the free-agent receiver wants in his next contract, inform The Athletic the Bills simply don’t have enough salary-cap room to accommodate Hopkins’ terms.

Furthermore, one of those executives (all of whom were granted anonymity to speak freely) is on record stating the Bills are a “long shot” to sign Hopkins. As reported here yesterday, it appears that Hopkins is looking for a deal similar to the one the Baltimore Ravens gave Odell Beckham Jr. (one year, $15 million guaranteed; $3 million in additional incentives).

It’s likely Hopkins actually wants more, considering Beckham didn’t play in 2022, whereas Hopkins did — albeit after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances. If Hopkins is found in violation again, the suspension becomes a full season.

While this latest twist in the Hopkins saga implies the Bills and he are likely to remain too far apart in negotiations, it’s clear that One Bills Drive is acutely interested in signing Hopkins. Despite Beane elloquently denying any pursuit of Hopkins early, the team has done a lot of leg work in direct contrast to his myriad statements on the matter. To that end, Graham states that “The Athletic has confirmed Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke with Hopkins directly.” Of course that conversation could have occurred yesterday, or last Friday, or anytime within the last six-week news cycle.

Despite Hopkins expressing a desire to play with Josh Allen, one of the NFL execs who spoke with The Athletic mentioned after communicating with Hopkins’ camp that “his preferred passer won’t supersede his preferred payout.”

That’s his right. He’s earned it. He’s just not going to earn it playing with a young, elite franchise quarterback — nor for a team that’s a bona fide contender. Additionally, Hopkins’ release from the Cardinals marks the second time a team that needed his talent chose to move on without him. The Bills shouldn’t bend over backwards for a player whose interest might align differently than initially understood.

For DeAndre Hopkins, it may ultimately come down to Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, or the bag.