J.J. Watt Calls Texans' DeAndre Hopkins Trade 'Above My Pay Grade'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) encourages the crowd during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Michael Wyke/Associated Press

J.J. Watt was surprised the Houston Texans traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but he accepts the decisions made by the front office.

The defensive end recently discussed the move as part of an interview with Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated:

"Anytime you have a guy like Hop, who in my opinion, has the best hands in the game and is obviously one of the top receivers of the game, it certainly catches your eye, that's for sure. It's always tough to lose a guy like that, no matter what the situation is. It's above my pay grade and it's something that obviously the team and the organization feels is in the best interest of the team. So as a player on the team, I do my job and I go to work and I play the games, and the GM and the owners, they do their job and they try and do what they feel is best for the team. And so, all I can do is show up and go to work and hope that all the guys that we have are great contributors to our team."

Houston traded Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick (used on defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence) to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick (defensive tackle Ross Blacklock) and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Hopkins is obviously an elite player, earning first-team All-Pro honors in each of the last three seasons, but head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien defended it as a business move.

"It was in the best interest of our team," O'Brien said, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise."

The receiver later revealed there was "no relationship" between himself and O'Brien and that asking for a raise was an opportunity to get traded, per Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated.

It leaves the Texans without one of their top playmakers from last season, although they did add Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb to help strengthen the receiving corps.

Watt will still try to anchor the defense, although staying healthy will be key for him after he missed eight games last year and 32 total contests since the start of the 2016 season.