NFL

Deandre Hopkins Just Followed in Patrick Mahomes’ Footsteps off the Field

If you hadn’t noticed by the league-leading 22 catches over his first two games as an Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins is a take-charge kind of guy. Hopkins began the year by taking control of his financial future, and his most recent move mirrors a decision by Patrick Mahomes that could make a lot of money for both NFL stars.

The trade to the Arizona Cardinals remains a head-scratcher

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The offseason trade that sent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson was close to a straight-up deal, with the Houston Texans also acquiring a second-round draft pick. It left an entire football-watching country stunned at why the Texans would make such a move rather than negotiate the contract extension that the star receiver  sought.

Hopkins came into 2020 averaging 105 catches a year over the past three seasons, each of which ended with selection to the Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, Johnson hadn’t been the same since missing almost the entire 2017 season. At 28 years old, he’s getting close to the age at which teams start shying away from backs even if they’re coming off solid seasons – which Johnson wasn’t.

Johnson has rushed for 111 yards (at 5.0 yards a pop) and a touchdown through two games with the Texans, making for a respectable start. However, Hopkins has already caught a league-best 22 balls on 25 targets. He is only averaging 10.0 yards per reception, but Hopkins has picked up 13 first downs.

Hopkins is proving in the early going to be worth every penny the Cardinals have invested in him. That’s because Patrick Mahomes may have signed the most lucrative NFL contract ever over the summer, but Hopkins conducted one of the most interesting negotiations.

DeAndre Hopkins now does his own negotiating

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If the trade to the Arizona Cardinals was the most surprising DeAndre Hopkins development off the offseason, then the circumstances around his new contract ranked as a close second.

Shortly before the 2020 opener, Hopkins and the Cardinals worked out a two-year, $54.5 million contract extension that guarantees the eighth-year receiver $42.75 million. That was a nice bit of negotiating, because almost nobody who doesn’t have the letters “QB” next to their name on the roster has the leverage to land that kind of guarantee.

The best part is that Hopkins saved himself the usual agent fees by making the deal himself. Plus, NFL Network reported, Hopkins included a no-trade clause into what is now a five-year deal following the extension, a voidable year, and an assurance that the franchise tag cannot be applied to him – all bargaining chips he can use in future negotiations.

Hopkins, 28, did all the negotiating with the Cardinals himself after an amicable parting in June with his agents at Creative Artists Agency. CAA is a huge name in sports and the entertainment industry, but Hopkins wanted to take charge of the most important aspect of his professional life.

“It’s ownership and me believing in myself and my abilities to study the terminology of contracts and me knowing where I want to be after football,” Hopkins told AZCentral.com

DeAndre Hopkins is planning for life after retirement

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DeAndre Hopkins has mentioned working in the front office of an NFL organization after his playing days, but he also has an eye toward building a business empire. He wants to call his own shots as he does so.

“Agents are great. There’s never no knock on the agent or nothing against the agent that I had previously,” he said. “There was no bad ties with them. It was just something that I wanted to do myself.”

While negotiating with the Arizona Cardinals over the summer, Hopkins was also lining up endorsements and business deals. According to CNBC, he was already an investor in Oars and Alps skin-care products, Beyond Meat, and some Texas real estate.

In the past two weeks, Hopkins has signed with Therabody, a manufacturer of Massage therapy devices, and BioSteel, which makes sugar-free sports drinks. The BioSteel deal is most interesting because Hopkins is investing in the company as well as endorsing it.

BioSteel has lined up multiple athlete endorsers as it ramps up its battle with Gatorade in the sports drink niche. Most recent among them was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Like Hopkins and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Mahomes holds an equity stake in BioSteel.

Hopkins and the others recognize that the value of the investment can rocket skyward when the company starts selling stock down the road.