Why the Kansas City Chiefs had to lose out on DeAndre Hopkins

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The DeAndre Hopkins free agency saga finally came to an end Sunday afternoon when the star receiver signed a 2-year, $26 million deal worth up to $32 million in incentives with the Tennessee Titans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

It was a rather anticlimactic ending for Chiefs fans, as Kansas City lost out on the Hopkins sweepstakes. The same goes for NFL fans in general as the Titans seem like a rather boring pick for Hopkins, who is entering the twilight of his career and has signed with a non-contending team as it appears.

In the days leading up to the Hopkins signing, it appeared as if the Chiefs were making a late push and the tea leaves were indicating the Chiefs were going to be able to pull it off. The odds on DraftKings Sportsbook even shifted towards Hopkins ending up with Kansas City. So what changed and led to Hopkins choosing the Titans so quickly?

The decision for Hopkins to sign with the Titans comes as a bit of a surprise as it seems to contradict earlier reports from the beginning of the offseason when Hopkins trade rumors began stating that the wideout wished to play for a contending team and preferred to play with a great quarterback. Then when Hopkins was released, it seemed all but guaranteed he'd end up on a contender.

DeAndre Hopkins said a lot about wanting to play for a contender and all, but in the end, money talks with most players in the NFL.

Not only are the Titans not even considered a contender but we also have no idea who their starting quarterback is going to be at the moment. Why would Hopkins decide to ultimately go to the Titans? The answer is simple: Money.

Hopkins joins a long list of players that have once said they'd like to play for a contender yet didn't. While that is most likely true, those players also wanted their money and it is very rare that veteran free agents, especially this late in the game, are getting both of those things. They have to choose what is more important to them.

Take Adam Thielen for example. He was a veteran free agent wide receiver this offseason that many thought would be a good fit for the Chiefs. It was a consensus that Thielen wanted to join a contender when he was released by the Minnesota Vikings, but then he signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Carolina Panthers which was simply a ridiculous contract for the 32-year-old Thielen. You constantly see these non-contending teams, who have more money to spend, willing to pay more than any contender for the services of veterans and those deals are just too good for those guys to pass up. You can't really blame them, either.

In an ideal world, Hopkins isn't demanding that much money, and his list of potential teams is only filled with contending teams such as the Chiefs, but the desperation of the Baltimore Ravens to land wide receiver help earlier this offseason likely changed the landscape. Remember they gave Odell Beckham, Jr. a 1-year, $18 million deal that likely changed how Hopkins viewed his free agent potential. That severely limited how many teams could seriously pursue Hopkins and be competitive in that market.

By now, most teams that are looking to contend next year have already used up most of their cap space and those who do have any cap space aren't really contending. In Kansas City's case that couldn't be more true. They're the Super Bowl favorites for next year and they currently have less than a million dollars according to Over The Cap. It was going to be hard for them to ever pull off a signing of Hopkins even if it made sense for both sides.

The only real way for the Chiefs to have had money for Hopkins was to extend Chris Jones, which seems like a no-brainer but is easier said than done. Maybe Hopkins didn't want to wait to see when that was going to happen and had an offer he liked already. Maybe the Titans put the pressure on him to sign now and even sweetened the pot to get him to commit. There are a lot of things that could have happened that people aren't considering but you can't really complain that the Chiefs didn't get Hopkins when there was no real path forward financially.

Then, there's the actual contract that Hopkins received from Tennessee. Two years, $26 million, and worth up to $32 million with $12 million guaranteed in the first year. All it really takes is one glance at that deal to say, "Yeah, the Chiefs were never going to compete with that". With a Chris Jones extension, they would've been able to come close but the multi-year aspect of the deal made the possibility even less likely. The Chiefs were likely only in it for one year, and Hopkins preferred the financial stability and multi-year commitment the Titans were offering. The Chiefs also have to think about extending players like L'Jarius Sneed and Creed Humphrey in the coming months and tying up significant money in Hopkins over the next couple of years could've complicated that.

While it is unfortunate that Kansas City was not able to find a way to acquire Hopkins and the possibility would have been exciting, most Chiefs fans would probably agree that a couple of years of DeAndre Hopkins on the back end of his career isn't worth potentially letting go of a franchise cornerstone player.

The combination of the Titans offering Hopkins $13 million per year along with a multi-year commitment and the cap hurdles the Chiefs would've had to make to even come close to that offer was just too much for Hopkins to be realistic. On the bright side, at least the DeAndre Hopkins free agency updates are finally over and we can all go about the rest of our offseason normally.