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Cardinals HC Jonathan Gannon explains DeAndre Hopkins release as 'best thing for the team'

The Arizona Cardinals did not trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins leading up to or during the 2023 NFL Draft. Then they flat out released him a few weeks later.

New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon attempted to explain the franchise's thinking on the decision.

"Yeah, just all the factors that were in play, we just felt that it was the best thing for the team to play with who we have," Gannon told reporters on Thursday.

When the Cardinals couldn't find a trade partner, they cut Hopkins. The timing of Hopkins' release -- prior to June 1 -- allowed the team to take the entire salary-cap hit for the 2023 season, which will prevent any dead money from leaking into the 2024 books.

For Gannon, the change of course on keeping Hopkins hasn't fazed him in his maiden season as a head coach.

"Yeah, it's really no big deal to me," Gannon said. "We were operating on the premise that he was going to be here, and now we're not. So, we're moving on."

The Cardinals will have to replace Hopkins' 64 catches for 717 yards and three touchdowns in his nine games a year ago. So, who do the Cardinals have at receiver now? Veterans Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch and Zach Pascal are the most established options, and 2023 third-round pick Michael Wilson brings promise if he can avoid injuries.

Brown, Moore and Dortch combined for 160 catches, 1,590 yards and six TDs in a combined 36 appearances for the Cardinals last season. Pascal caught 15 passes for 150 yards and one TD in 17 games for the Eagles in 2022.

"I'm very pleased with our receivers right now," Gannon said. "If you carve out a role for yourself, we'll use you in that role."

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