DeAndre Hopkins will be a free agent after release from Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

After a long offseason filled with rumors of a trade then a release then another trade and then perhaps the chance of even staying in Arizona, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins finally realized his future path—at least in part—with the reported news of his release from the Cardinals on Friday afternoon.

NFL reporter Jonathan Jones says the Cardinals will set Hopkins free after months of publicly shopping him around the league. Clearly general manager Monti Ossenfort wasn't able to squeeze teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, or Kansas City Chiefs for what he thought he might get. And despite overtures saying he could stay put, the Cardinals ultimately decided to let Hopkins walk.

What happens now is going to be interesting to watch since most teams have already wrapped up the bulk of their offseason shopping. The Chiefs have been among the teams linked to Hopkins all along and they've remained some of the favorites, per betting odds, but that doesn't mean a deal is imminent. The Chiefs have a solid core of young receivers who would lose room to grow if Hopkins were on board.

Even more complicated are the financial matters around Hopkins, who will want to secure significant money for any new deal—and he certainly deserves it. Despite playing only 9 games last year after being suspended, Hopkins still showed he could be incredibly productive with 717 receiving yards in that short span, averaging more receiving yards per game than even Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

The Bills, Jets, and Baltimore Ravens were also among the teams linked to Hopkins and should be among those teams interested in at least bringing him in for a visit. Don't be surprised if all of these teams have some smoke involved, even if the fire is legit or not.