DeAndre Hopkins isn't out to get paid, and he holds no ill will toward his employer.
He just wants stability.
"What I want is stable management upstairs," the Cardinals receiver explained during an appearance on an episode of the I AM ATHLETE podcast posted on Monday. "I think that's something that I haven't really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston to being in Arizona; I've been through three to four GMs in my career. … A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him, pushes not just himself but people around him. I don't need a great QB -- I've done it with subpar QBs -- just a QB who loves the game like I do. And a great defense. I think defense wins championships.
"For me, that's it: great management, a QB who loves the game and a great defense."
Arizona was supposed to have exactly this combination in the last two seasons, and the addition of Hopkins was a major part of its bright future. Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim's vision failed to produce a winner, though, leading to more of what Hopkins is all too familiar with: upheaval.
Monti Ossenfort is now in charge, and with his arrival came rumblings of a potential trade involving Hopkins. Although nothing has materialized to this point, Hopkins remains away from the team, working on his own in Toronto and awaiting new developments.
It doesn't mean he's guaranteed to be headed elsewhere. Ossenfort has remained positive in his comments regarding Hopkins' future in the desert. Hopkins said he doesn't have an issue with the Cardinals, either.
"For me, no," Hopkins said when asked if his relationship with the club was fractured. "I have no ego. This is a business. This is a professional sport. People have jobs to do. Obviously, there is a new regime. There's new head coaches, new GMs. They come in and out every year on sports teams.
"For me, understanding and knowing the business, I can't go into it with an ego. Hearing rumors of me being traded or shopped around, that does nothing for me as far as making me feel some kind of way towards that team."
The thought of trading Hopkins revolves around extracting maximum compensation for an All-Pro receiver who remains under contract. Arizona is headed toward what the club hopes will be a rapid rebuild, but Hopkins' career timeline doesn't quite fit that. He turns 31 in June and has two years left on his deal, including 2023. Hopkins is made to play for a contender, not a team that needs to retool before entertaining a pursuit of a title.
Instead of keeping Hopkins on a roster that likely won't have Kyler Murray available for a significant portion of the 2023 season, Arizona could move him for valuable assets best used to aid its rebuild. It makes plenty of sense -- it just hasn't happened yet.
A trade might not happen. But with his honesty, Hopkins is taking a no-nonsense approach to his current situation and hoping for the best.
"Phoenix is home. Phoenix is where I have been the last three years of my life," Hopkins said. "I enjoy being in Phoenix. Working out there has no emphasis other than that's where I am, that's where I live. It's not me going on a campaign, doing anything other than working out."
Hopkins' current situation also cannot be explained without mentioning his struggles with injuries in recent seasons. After posting a 1,400-yard debut campaign with the Cardinals in 2020, Hopkins has only been able to play in 19 of a possible 34 games in the last two years due to injuries and a suspension. Add in Arizona's team-wide struggles, and instead of chasing a ring, Hopkins and the Cardinals have become familiar with disappointment.
Arizona's failures aren't an indictment of Hopkins, but he's not immune to criticism. He's heard it -- he just isn't paying much attention to it.
"I do not feel slighted by that at all. I know I'm the best in the NFL," Hopkins said. "Just me personally, I know where I am. I know what I've done with whatever I've had around me. … Like you said, I haven't played two full seasons. I don't like talking previous, I don't like talking past. That's what's on my record right now. The only thing I can do is I go out this year and go to work. That's it."
Hopkins is working toward a bounce-back 2023 season. Where that takes place remains to be seen.