A Dalvin Cook and DeAndre Hopkins package deal? Cowboys lead short list of teams that could fit both

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Dalvin Cook and DeAndre Hopkins
(Getty Images)

Money matters.

Both DeAndre Hopkins and Dalvin Cook are surprise free agents at this point in the offseason. Hopkins was released by the Cardinals after a year in which he was injured and posted just 717 receiving yards over nine games. The Vikings couldn't find a trade partner for Cook, leading to his release, as well.

While both players are sure to have something left in the tank to offer any of the other 31 NFL franchises who may want them, maybe chasing a ring is more important. That seems to be the case for Cook, at least — and he may want to team up with Hopkins to lift the Lombardi.

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"I want to go win," Cook said on a recent episode of "The Adam Schefter Podcast." "Like I said, the money gonna come and that's going to happen. But like as far as going to lift that [Vince Lombardi] Trophy up, he (Hopkins) got the same mindset as me."

Cost dependent, a package deal for two preeminent offensive players isn't something that a lot of teams would be able to fit in their budget at this point in the offseason. There are, though, some teams with a bit of cap maneuverability who could fit both players into the fold. 

Chicago Bears

Effective cap space: $32,037,189

After trading out of the No. 1 overall spot this year, Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus hitched their wagon to Justin Fields, for better or worse. To that end, the Bears need to do absolutely everything to make sure that Fields is surrounded with talent entering a crucial and pivotal Year 3 to ensure that he is The Guy moving forward.

Chicago tried that by acquiring Chase Claypool (it didn't work out well) and again after trading the No. 1 pick to the Panthers for D.J. Moore and more. A 1-2 punch of Hopkins and Moore give them a significantly better receiving corps, and Cook working with a room of D'Onta Foreman and Khalil Hebert makes a pretty decent running back committee. 

MORE: Breaking down DeAndre Hopkins' next team odds

Carolina Panthers

Effective cap space: $26,579,030

On the other side of coin, the Panthers certainly upgraded their offensive corps this offseason, adding receivers Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark, running back Miles Sanders and tight end Hayden Hurst. The question, though, is how much better are they, really?

Supporting a young quarterback with as much name-brand talent should be a goal for any team in the NFL. Yes, if a quarterback is the goods, then he will be able to elevate his skill position group — but why take the risk of your QB operating with an average or sub-standard skill group?

Thielen has had injury issues and also hasn't had an 1,000-yard season since 2018 (Justin Jefferson's arrival has something to do with that), and the wide receiver room significantly thins out after his top spot on the depth chart. Sanders is coming off his best year as a pro and Chuba Hubbard is a nice piece for a running back room, but Cook would add some more value as both a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield in Frank Reich's offense.

That all means that there's still room to throw in both Hopkins and Cook into the fold for Bryce Young, and potentially take the offense from "improved" to "significantly better."

MORE: Best fits for Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and more

Dallas Cowboys

Effective cap space: $20,452,185

The Cowboys paid the price for parting with Amari Cooper prior to 2022: CeeDee Lamb put up 1,359 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2022, but the next leading pass catcher was tight end Dalton Schultz, who had 577 receiving yards. 

Dallas added the perpetually underrated Brandin Cooks this offseason, which will be a boost to their receiving room. After Lamb and Cooks, it gets dicey. Michael Gallup, who returned from an ACL injury, and to his own admission, wasn't feeling 100 percent in 2022. He can potentially still provide a vertical threat, but a lot is riding on Gallup's knee.

After Gallup, it's a hodgepodge of receivers: 2022 Third-round pick Jalen Tolbert caught two passes for 12 yards in 2022. KeVontae Turpin was more return man than receiver and Simi Fehoko, Dontario Drummond, Dennis Houston and others fill out the wide receiver room entering the next stage of the offseason. (If you said, "Who?" more than once, you aren't alone.)

In the backfield, things don't look much better. Dallas finally cut ties with Ezekiel Elliott after years of diminishing returns and franchise tagged Tony Pollard, who signed and will play out the year on the deal. Behind Pollard: Malik Davis, Ronald Jones and rookie Deuce Vaughn. Sounds like a few chefs in the kitchen, but they could certainly use a Cook. 

Dallas said they weren't making a play for either Hopkins nor Cook, so maybe this is more pipe dream than talent pipeline, but it's hard to deny either wouldn't make the Cowboys a better offensive team in the immediate. 

Wouldn't this be so very "Jerry?"

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Joe Rivera is a senior content producer at The Sporting News and teaches Multimedia Sports Reporting at his alma mater, Rutgers University.