Hopkins now joins a long list of celebrities who have been dropped.
With less than 100 days until the start of the regular season, a former All-Pro wide receiver is available. After three years with the Arizona Cardinals, DeAndre Hopkins was let go on Friday. By releasing Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowler who will play for his third team in 2023, Arizona frees up just under $9 million in cap space.
Hopkins now joins a distinguished group of NFL stars who were cut during their prime. Numerous players who are currently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are included in the ranking of the most unexpected retirements of NFL great in their heyday.
The top 20 players ever to be released in their prime are listed below. Hopkins, who caught 853 receptions for 11,298 yards and 71 touchdowns in his first ten years in the NFL, is indeed on the list.
Where will DeAndre Hopkins play in the upcoming campaign? Visit SportsLine to see out which teams have the best chances of signing the dependable Pro Bowl player.
1. Peyton Manning
Indianapolis parted ways with Manning because of his neck problem and the knowledge that the Colts would have the first overall choice in the 2011 draft. The quarterback Andrew Luck was chosen by the Colts, and over his seven-year career, he helped the Colts make many postseason trips. Manning had four more seasons in Denver, winning two AFC championships, the league MVP, and the Super Bowl 50.
2. Jerry Rice
After the 2000 season, the 49ers made the decision to break ways with Rice, who was then 38 years old. Alongside Terrell Owens during that season, Rice hauled in 75 passes for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. Rice experienced a professional comeback in Oakland, where he played in the Pro Bowl at the age of 40 and helped the Raiders win the Super Bowl.
3. Emmitt Smith
Shortly after Smith broke Walter Payton’s career rushing record, the Cowboys released him. Smith, a three-time Super Bowl champion for the Cowboys, signed with the Cardinals in 2003 and decided to stay in the NFL. After a successful 2004 season in which he ran for 937 yards, the same number of yards he had rushed for as a rookie 14 years earlier, Smith had a dismal first season in Arizona but closed his career on a high note.
4. Franco Harris
The Steelers released the legendary member of the franchise prior to the 1984 campaign due to a contract dispute. Before retiring after the 1984 season, Harris had only 170 yards for the Seahawks after rushing for more than 1,000 yards in his final season with Pittsburgh. This past December, the Steelers retired Harris’ No. 32.
5. LaDainian Tomlinson
The Chargers were forced to cut loose the former league MVP after the 2009 campaign due to Tomlinson’s poor performance and the rise of teammate running back Darren Sproles. In New York, where he assisted the Jets in making it to the 2010 AFC Championship Game, the Hall of Fame running back had one more successful season. 2012 marked Tomlinson’s retirement from the Chargers after two seasons with the Jets.
6. Terrell Owens
Despite catching 69 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns in the 2008 season, Owens was cut by the Cowboys. But compared to his 2007 season, when he caught 81 catches for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns, these figures were down. Although Owens had good seasons with the Bills (2009) and Bengals (2010), no team signed him after his lone campaign in Cincinnati.
7. Darrelle Revis
Revis, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, was released by the Jets after the organization was unable to find a trade partner. Prior to joining with the Patriots in 2014, Revis spent the 2013 season in Tampa. Revis only played in New England for one season, but during that time, he won a Super Bowl and was recognized as an All-Pro for the fourth time. Later, in 2015, he rejoined the Jets, where he was chosen for his seventh and last Pro Bowl.
8. DeMarcus Ware
Ware, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, was released after finishing his career in Dallas with six sacks. Ware, who amassed 117 of his 138.5 career sacks with the Cowboys, experienced a professional resurgence with the Broncos, where he was chosen for two Pro Bowls and contributed to the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory.
9. Charles Woodson
After spending seven years with the Packers, Woodson was dismissed due to salary cap issues despite being a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion. Woodson played for the Raiders for his first eight seasons of his career before ending it there. Woodson finished his career well, intercepting five passes and was nominated to the Pro Bowl in his age-39 year.
10. Julius Peppers
The Bears cut the future Hall of Fame pass rusher as a cost-saving measure. Prior to the 2015 season, Peppers elected to stay in the NFC North by signing with the Packers. That season marked Peppers’ ninth season with at least 10 sacks and his ninth selection to the Pro Bowl. He played for Green Bay for three seasons before playing for Carolina for his final season, the team where he spent his first ten years.
11. Andre Johnson
After his 33rd season, the Texans released Johnson after he had caught 85 passes for 936 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson had a Hall of Fame-caliber career in Houston, earning seven Pro Bowl votes and two All-Pro selections before playing for the Colts and Titans before retiring.
12. Richard Sherman
Sherman, arguably the greatest player in team history, was cut by the Seahawks following the 2017 campaign. Sherman, a five-time Pro Bowler in Seattle, helped the 49ers win the Super Bowl in 2019. He also received a second Pro Bowl nod in San Francisco.
13. Steve Smith Sr.
Smith, the greatest offensive player in Panthers history, spent 13 years with the team before being released following the 2013 campaign. Later, Smith joined the Ravens, where he recorded his seventh career season with more over 1,000 receiving yards in 2015. Before permanently hanging up his cleats, Smith played two more seasons with Baltimore.
14. James Harrison
When Harrison requested and received his release from Pittsburgh late in the 2017 campaign, everyone was taken aback. Harrison requested his release because he was unhappy with his restricted role in Pittsburgh’s defense, which led to his becoming the Steelers’ all-time career leader in sacks the previous season. Harrison quickly signed with the rival Patriots, where he played until the next season’s Super Bowl, when he decided to retire.
15. DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins, a powerful player when fit, is coming off two seasons marred by injuries. In his final season in Arizona, he missed eight games last year and seven games in 2021. This season, the 30-year-old wideout will try to revitalize his career with a new squad.
16. Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs parted company with their all-time leading rusher after the 2016 campaign due to an injury. Charles was one of the top performers in the NFL before to suffering an injury. After being released by Kansas City, he spent one year each in Denver and Jacksonville. Charles, who played in four Pro Bowls between 2010 and 2014, retired with an astounding 5.4 yards per run.
17. Tyrann Mathieu
Although Mathieu was an All-Pro in Arizona, the Cardinals terminated him because he refused to accept a pay cut. Before agreeing to a multiyear contract with the Chiefs in 2019, he performed admirably during a one-year “prove-it” contract with Houston. During his first season in Kansas City, he was named to the All-Pro team and contributed to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
18. Dez Bryant
Bryant, a beloved member of the Cowboys’ No. 88 club, was let go by Dallas following his eighth season there, saving the team $8 million in salary budget room. Bryant was sidelined for two years by an Achilles injury before making his (though brief) comeback for the Ravens in 2020.
19. Shaun Alexander
After winning MVP honors and leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance two years prior, Alexander was cut by Seattle. In his lone season with Washington, Alexander, who was a Pro Bowler every year from 2003 to 2005, only gained 24 yards on the ground.
20. Joe Namath
When the Jets dismissed Namath, he was past his peak, but he still made the list partly because he was one of the first NFL players to end his career with another team (Jonny Unitas was another). Namath’s criticized knees weren’t fixed by a new team, which led to his short tenure with the Rams—just one season—before his retirement following the 1977 campaign.