Arizona Cardinals of 2020 could be the Cleveland Browns of 2019, at least in terms of hype

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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Before the 2019 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns were lauded by NFL pundits and fans for their offseason moves.

Hype surrounding the team grew quickly and big things were expected from the team.

It's early in the 2020 offseason, but it appears like the Arizona Cardinals could be the heir apparent to the Browns in the NFL hype machine for 2020.

NFL writers are raving about what the Cardinals have done this offseason, and what it could mean in the upcoming season.

Touchdown Wire's Michael Colangelo recently listed the Cardinals among six teams in a story about NFL teams that could end up on the Browns hype train in 2020.

He had the Cardinals ranked No. 1 among the six.

He wrote: "It almost fits the playbook to a tee. Kyler Murray is coming off an Offensive Rookie of the Year honor. Kliff Kingsbury is in his second year implementing his system in Arizona. The Cardinals added a big-name wide receiver when they traded for DeAndre Hopkins. They can add offensive line help in the draft or focus on improving their defense. The problem for the Cardinals is that they are still very young and they may be in the most difficult division in the NFL. The NFC West is stacked. There’s more tape on Murray and teams will force him into tougher situations. Kliff Kingsbury was lauded for his performance last year, but the Cardinals didn’t even finish .500. This could be Texas Tech all over again. Still, expect the Cardinals to be a lot of folks’ sleeper team when it comes time to choose a squad that will make a surprising run at the playoffs."

MORE:Arizona Cardinals' expectations for 2020 rising after DeAndre Hopkins trade, other moves

The Cardinals of 2020 do appear to have some similarities with the Browns of 2019.

The Browns had just picked up Odell Beckham Jr.

The Cardinals picked up DeAndre Hopkins.

The Browns finished 2018 on a little bit of a run, building optimism for 2019.

The Cardinals played much better down the stretch in 2019, creating some excitement for 2020.

Baker Mayfield, a former Oklahoma quarterback, was expected to elevate his game entering 2019.

Kyler Murray, a former Oklahoma quarterback, is expected to elevate his game entering 2020.

Arizona fans have to hope that the similarities end there, however.

The Browns finished 2019 with a 6-10 record. Head coach Freddie Kitchens was fired and the team was embroiled in rumors and speculation due to its sub-par play.

After going 5-10-1 in 2019, the Cardinals are hoping to finish 2020 with a much better record.

Fans are no doubt hoping the team lives up to some of the hype surrounding it, at least a lot better than the Browns did in 2019.

MORE:Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray lands in Top 5 of NFL MVP odds for 2020 season

There is a lot of hype surrounding Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray and the 2020 Arizona Cardinals. And it could just be beginning.

More hype for the Cardinals:

USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis raved about "the heist" of NFL free agency, the Cardinals' trade for DeAndre Hopkins.

He wrote: "Snaring all-pro WR DeAndre Hopkins – while unloading RB David Johnson's contract in the process – goes down as the heist of 2020's free agency period ... especially since RB Kenyan Drake, who bears the transition tag, projected as the better backfield fit."

CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr wrote that the Cardinals could be contending for the NFC West title very soon.

He wrote: "The Cardinals didn't just ace free agency, they crushed the opening week and lapped the division in the process. Not only did Arizona fire David Johnson's bloated contract into the sun, but they were also able to acquire DeAndre Hopkins while doing so. What a stroke of genius by GM Steve Keim to actually convince Bill O'Brien to award the franchise Hopkins, giving reigning rookie of the year Kyler Murray another wide receiver (in addition to Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk) to throw to. All Arizona had to give up was Johnson (who fell out of favor and had a massive contract), a second-round pick (No. 40 overall) and a 2021 fourth-round pick to Houston. Oh, and they got a 2020 fourth-round pick back from Houston as well. Hopkins immediately becomes the No. 1 in Arizona and will continue to grow with Murray for years to come. Keeping Fitzgerald exclusively in the slot will make the Cardinals better, especially with Hopkins, Kirk and Andy Isabella providing the firepower on the outside. Kirk can also move into the slot in certain situations. The Cardinals didn't stop with the addition of Hopkins. The front office made major strides to improve a defense that ranked 28th in points allowed and dead last in yards allowed in 2019. Arizona stabilized the linebacker group with the additions of Devon Kennard (three years, $20 million) and De'Vondre Campbell (one year, $6 million), pairing them with Jordan Hicks in the middle. Chandler Jones is arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL and the Cardinals gave him some interior pass rush help with the signing of Jordan Phillips (three years, $30 million) and Trevon Coley. The Cardinals didn't add much to improve the 31st-ranked pass defense, but a better pass rush will aid in assisting that unit. Arizona also gave the transition tag to Kenyon Drake (643 yards, 8 TD, 5.2 yards per carry) and still have Chase Edmonds as the No. 2 running back. The Cardinals hit a massive home run this offseason, gaining a lot of ground on their NFC West competitors. May not be long before Arizona starts contending for a division title."

MORE:NFL power rankings: Arizona Cardinals soar in NFL rankings after DeAndre Hopkins trade

Fansided wrote that the Cardinals will be vastly improved in 2020.

Cody Williams wrote: " They stole DeAndre Hopkins from the Cardinals while somehow convincing them to take David Johnson off their hands as they wanted to get out of his deal. Keeping Kenyan Drake via the transition tag and signing De’Vondre Campbell were also two really smart moves by general manager Steve Keim. … Arizona will be miles better with the moves they made and will certainly garner a ton of sleeper buzz if they continue to make splashes in the draft."

Bleacher Report wrote that the Cardinals' additions could pay big dividends in 2020.

Alex Ballentine wrote: "The Cardinals undoubtedly emerged as one of the big winners of the offseason. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury will love the addition of star wideout DeAndre Hopkins via a trade that sent David Johnson to the Houston Texans, but the team's investments in the defense will help it take the next step. 

De'Vondre Campbell (one year, $6 million) led the Falcons in tackles last season, while Devon Kennard (three years, $20 million) has been an underrated edge defender, racking up seven sacks in each of the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Jordan Phillips (three years, $30 million) is an interior defender who can generate pressure inside, even though his 9.5 sacks from last season are misleading. According to Bill Barnwell of ESPN, Phillips had a pass-rushing win rate of 10.1 percent in 2019, which ranked just 71st leaguewide. 

Ultimately, the Cardinals have done a good job of putting pieces around second-year quarterback Kyler Murray. They needed a No. 1 receiver, and it's hard to do better than Hopkins.    

MORE:Arizona Cardinals criticized for Jordan Phillips, Kenyan Drake, De'Vondre Campbell moves

CBS Sports wrote that the Cardinals are the most improved team in the NFL so far this offseason.

Jordan Dajani wrote: "The Cardinals may have gone 5-10-1 last season, but they appear to have a franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray and a decent coach in Kliff Kingsbury. They now have one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, thanks to what can only be described as a mental lapse by Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien. DeAndre Hopkins was shipped to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and what was basically a swap of fourth-round picks. Johnson's contract was burdensome for the Cardinals as well, so the fact that they rid themselves of that while picking up a true No. 1 wideout is absolutely incredible. The Cardinals also retained several offensive linemen and signed linebackers Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell. They have some more work to do on defense, but the Cardinals could surprise some people this season. The Hopkins trade alone makes them a winner this offseason no matter how the draft goes."

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