Texans' J.J. Watt: Execs Must Answer for Their Job After DeAndre Hopkins Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 04: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans walks off the field following his teams 22-19 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt didn't criticize the team's front office, but he made it clear the pressure is on the team's executives to justify the trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.

"That's why people have jobs in those positions, coaching staff, GM, front office, that's their job," Watt said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters, per the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "They have to answer for their job. I have to answer for my job. We each answer the bell to our own call."

Fans were left scratching their heads upon learning of the Hopkins trade. He's coming off his third-straight All-Pro season, catching 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. The 27-year-old is signed for three more seasons as well.

The terms of the trade made the move even more puzzling.

David Johnson is three years removed from his 2016 breakout season and hasn't replicated that production (a league-high 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns), and he counts for $11.2 million against the salary cap in 2020 and $9 million in 2021. Houston also received a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder.

For the sake of comparison, the Minnesota Vikings netted first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in 2020 and a 2021 fourth-round selection for Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-rounder.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina, Watt addressed the trade. His comments echoed what he said Wednesday:

"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."

The buck basically stops at Bill O'Brien's desk.

When the Texans walked away from their pursuit of New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, O'Brien became the de facto general manager. Houston made his title official in January.

Because of his dual roles, O'Brien might face less internal scrutiny, but it could prove to be a double-edged sword because he'll have no one else to blame if the Hopkins trade proves to be a colossal mistake.