Report: Texans Traded DeAndre Hopkins over Contract; O'Brien, WR Had Friction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2020

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) gestures during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Houston Texans shocked the NFL world on Monday, reportedly trading superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Per McClain, the reasoning behind the trade was that the Texans "didn't want to re-do Hopkins' contract with three years left."

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle also reported that "friction existed between [Hopkins] and Bill O'Brien that could ultimately lead to his exit." 

Another likely reason for the trade is that the Texans lacked quality draft capital.

Peter King of Pro Football Talk wrote early Monday, before the trade took place, that "Houston is currently in draft hell, without a top-50 pick in 2020 and 2021, and coach Bill O’Brien has huge needs to fill on his offensive line, in the secondary and overall youth on the front seven; J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus will play this year at 31 and 30."

The Texans addressed the lack of top-50 picks—the Cardinals will be sending them the No. 40 overall selection—but failing to get a first-round pick for an elite wideout like Hopkins seems like an oversight. Hopkins has posted 100 or more receptions three times in his career, at least 1,000 receiving yards five times and double-digit touchdowns three times.

Suffice to say, social media was scratching its collective head at giving up Hopkins for a running back in Johnson who fell out of favor in Arizona and has injury concerns, along with draft capital that didn't include a first-round pick:

Dan Hanzus @DanHanzus

The Hopkins trade is nuts ... and once again confirms the need for a GM APP where someone like BOB can put ARI offer out there to the other 31 bosses and see if someone can do better. Do we really think there wasn't one team willing to beat the David Johnson/2nd round package?

Pablo S. Torre @PabloTorre

I love how Bill O’Brien used the slowest sports news cycle ever to trade DeAndre Hopkins and successfully piledrive his own approval rating into the Earth’s core

The 2020 NFL draft is deep at wide receiver, so it's possible that the Texans could prioritize that position. But a young receiver will still need time to develop, and trading Hopkins means removing an elite receiver from Deshaun Watson's arsenal. 

That's a questionable decision from a team that has reached the postseason in four of the past five seasons and should have Super Bowl aspirations, even if there was friction behind the scenes and a looming contract standoff.