It’s no surprise that each side of the Houston Texans-DeAndre Hopkins breakup is taking shots at each other through the media.
Michael Irvin delivered Hopkins’ side, which was the mind-blowing revelation that Texans coach Bill O’Brien invoked comparisons to Aaron Hernandez when meeting with Hopkins. Then came what looks to be Houston’s excuse for a trade, which has been criticized relentlessly.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweeted about Hopkins’ contract demands shortly after that. Let’s assume this didn’t come from Hopkins’ camp:
After the Texans agreed to trade DeAndre Hopkins, sources told me Hopkins' reps told the Texans weeks prior he wanted a new deal paying him somewhere between $18- $20mil per year. The team was told Hopkins wouldn't show, if he didn't get the deal. Houston moved forward with trade— Dianna (@diannaESPN) March 18, 2020
The funny thing is, that leak makes the trade look even worse for the Texans.
DeAndre Hopkins wanted a raise
Hopkins had three years left on his deal which had $39.9 million remaining on it. He was tied for eighth among NFL receivers in terms of average per year over the course of his contract, according to Spotrac. Hopkins saw players like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas reset the market in the $20 million per year range and wanted his contract redone. That happens regularly in the NFL.
And if you’re going to complain about a player wanting a raise with three years remaining on his contract, acknowledge that the NFL cuts players with non-guaranteed years left on their contracts all the time. The NFL doesn’t honor its contracts, so players shouldn’t be criticized for wanting to change theirs.
Hopkins wasn’t being greedy. A new deal worth $18-20 million could have still put him below Jones ($22 million per season), Cooper ($20 million per season) and Thomas ($19.25 million per season). That wasn’t outlandish.
Houston, and particularly head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, just seemed bothered about a player exerting his leverage and asking for a fair deal (Charles Robinson and Terez Paylor talked about O’Brien’s power in the Texans organization, and it’s a good listen given the backdrop of this story).
The DeAndre Hopkins trade taught us that #Texans coach Bill O'Brien has as much football power in his org as Bill Belichick with the #Patriots and John Elway with the #Broncos.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 17, 2020
It’s as close to ownership power as you get without being an owner.
FULL POD: https://t.co/VuqKWoCrcK pic.twitter.com/3PmpgaZUIf
Texans will regret Hopkins trade
The Texans trade was awful. There’s no way around it. It was a potentially franchise-changing boon for the Arizona Cardinals, who robbed a bank and walked out of the front door in broad daylight. Good for them. The return the Minnesota Vikings received when they traded Stefon Diggs to Buffalo put into perspective how little the Texans got back for Hopkins, arguably one of the 10 best non-quarterbacks in the league.
Someone wanted to paint Hopkins as being greedy by leaking his contract demands. When, in fact, the contract demands are perfectly reasonable for a player as good as Hopkins. He has made three straight All-Pro teams. He’s arguably the best receiver in the NFL and his “demands” would have placed him about third or fourth on the average salary list. Hopkins took the high road.
This is being blown way out of proportion. As I’ve said before, I enjoyed and am proud of my time with the Texans. I have the utmost respect for Coach O’Brien and that will not change. Now, I’m ready to play for the Cardinals.— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) March 18, 2020
No, Hopkins’ contract request doesn’t excuse Houston’s trade in the slightest. It does not make it look better.
The Cardinals will presumably work with Hopkins and give him a deal that’s in line with his production, which is what the Texans should have done. Unlike Houston, the Cardinals probably aren’t going to let ego get in the way of what’s best for the franchise.
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