TEMPE, Ariz. — In Authentic DeAndre Hopkins Jersey, the Arizona Cardinals traded for one of the best receivers in football, a perennial All-Pro and the missing piece to their dynamic offense.
They also received the heir apparent to future Hall of Fame wide receiver Authentic Larry Fitzgerald Jersey.
And according to the numbers, Hopkins and Fitzgerald have been eerily similar through their first seven seasons, though Hopkins has a slight edge.
Both players were 27 when they entered their seventh season. Hopkins, who will turn 28 on June 6, has played in 110 games and has caught 632 passes for 8,602 yards and 54 touchdowns. When Fitzgerald reached his seventh season he had played in 108 games and had 613 catches for 8,204 and 65 touchdowns.
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Here’s where it gets a little weird, though.
Both had 17 drops in their first seven seasons and a reception percentage of 60.9%. Hopkins had 1,038 targets and Fitzgerald had 1,007 despite Hopkins running 1,643 more routes. Hopkins averaged 13.61 yards per catch. Fitzgerald averaged 13.38. Fitzgerald’s longest catch was 78 yards. Hopkins’ was 76.
There are some categories, however, where Hopkins has distanced himself from Fitzgerald through their first seven seasons.
Hopkins had 2,058 yards after the catch. Fitzgerald had 1,341. Hopkins had 556 yards after first contact. Fitzgerald had 164. Hopkins caught 452 first downs. Fitzgerald caught 417.
Most Receptions Since 2013 Season
Antonio Brown 690
Julio Jones 664
DeAndre Hopkins 632 *
Larry Fitzgerald 614
*-Entered NFL in 2013
But the biggest distinction in their first seven seasons is how they were used. Hopkins lined up in the slot in all 110 games to start his career, running 902 of his 4,091 routes out of the slot. Fitzgerald, who was primarily an outside receiver until 2013, lined up in the slot in only 63 games during his first seven seasons, running 449 routes out of that position. Hopkins caught 143 passes from the slot for 1,753 yards and eight touchdowns; Fitzgerald had 56 catches for 737 yards and seven touchdowns during his first seven seasons out of the slot.
During their first seven seasons, each receiver had five 1,000-yard years. Since 2001, Hopkins and Fitzgerald are ranked second and third, respectively, in total receiving yards through age 27. Calvin Johnson is first. They’re also in the top three — along with Johnson — in receptions and targets.
Both Hopkins and Fitzgerald were extremely durable in their first seven seasons. Hopkins missed two games and Fitzgerald missed four. But Fitzgerald’s usage — running 1,643 fewer routes — may have contributed to his longevity.
Most Snaps Since 2013 Season
DeAndre Hopkins 7,007*
Larry Fitzgerald 6,360
Demaryius Thomas 5,738
Antonio Brown 5,633
*-Entered NFL in 2013
By re-signing for 2020, Fitzgerald is committed to playing in his 17th NFL season. If Hopkins can play that long and sustain his current production, he would be within striking distance of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, whose 22,895 receiving yards are the most of all time.
Hopkins is averaging 1,228.8 yards per season. If he played 16 season, he’d be entering his 17th with 19,661, about 2.5 seasons away from passing Rice. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, will enter his 17th season with 17,083 yards, an average of 1,067.7 per season, leaving Fitzgerald about 5.5 seasons away from passing Rice.
When it comes to the all-time receptions record, if Hopkins were to play 17 seasons, averaging just more than 90 catches a season, as he has done through seven years, he’d need 105 catches in Year 17 to pass Rice. Fitzgerald still needs 171.
One receiver with Hall of Fame type numbers is a prize for any team. But two? That’s what the Cardinals have on their hands heading into the 2020 season.