DeAndre Hopkins trade grades: Cardinals bully Texans in blockbuster deal

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

DeAndre Hopkins is heading to the Arizona Cardinals in a blockbuster trade that sends David Johnson to the Texans. Analyzing and grading the deal.

It didn’t take long for NFL free agency and the 2020 NFL offseason to reach critical mass on insanity. And my tweet, I believe best sums up the madness that the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals just injected us with as I said: “Someone has been playing too much Madden while quarantined.”

In arguably the biggest news of the offseason (so far), the Houston Texans traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, 2020 second-round pick and 2021 fourth-round pick.

For more context, let’s do a little recap.

More from NFL Spin Zone

2016: Johnson leads all players in total touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. 2017: Johnson injures his wrist in the first week of the season and misses the rest of the year. 2018: Johnson is given a three-year, $39 million extension. He plays every game but his production is roughly cut in half compared to his breakout campaign in 2016. 2019: Johnson loses the starting job due to injuries and the emergence of Kenyan Drake.

Meanwhile, Hopkins was establishing himself as one of, if not the best, wide receiver in football. Only once did he dip below 1,000 receding yards in that time span (2016). Did I need to prove to you how much better Hopkins is than Johnson? No, though Johnson gets a little more heat than I’d give him, personally. So why did this deal go down? And who won the trade? Let’s dive in.

A Cap Clearing Move?

As of now, Hopkins has three years of roughly $39 million left on his contract, not including escalators and incentives. He currently has the 14th-biggest cap hit among wide receivers too. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Hopkins wanted a new deal that the Texans could not give him. Still, I don’t think the return was enough for a player of Hopkins’ level.

Johnson has two years of roughly $20 million remaining. Is this enough to make a big move? I doubt it. While the average salary per year is similar, this is still swapping a top-two receiver for a running back who hasn’t been among the best in three years. I’m not sure the money is worth it.

Eyes on the Draft?

Maybe Bill O’Brien, who is the general manager and head coach in Houston, realizes that this year’s wide receivers class is deep enough to replace Hopkins?

No, that can’t be it. For starters, no one can replace Hopkins, even if there is an insane amount of receiver depth in this year’s draft. Also, the Texans shipped their first-round pick to Miami, so their first selection will now be at No. 40, courtesy of the Cardinals. They can certainly take a good wide receiver there if they like, but again, none of them will be the 27-year-old Hopkins.

Besides, it would have been much easier to find a viable running back at the selection. That class is deep as well. Essentially, who would you rather have: D’Andre Swift and DeAndre Hopkins? Or David Johnson and Tee Higgins?

What Happens Next

Arizona will likely no longer target a wide receiver with its eighth overall pick. I’d lean toward an offensive tackle if I were them, like Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. The priority, as the Cardinals have demonstrated with this trade, is helping Kyler Murray. Of course, defensive studs like Isaiah Simmons or Jeffrey Okudah can’t be ruled out.

As for Houston, the Texans will need some wide receiver help. Unfortunately for them, that help will need to come fast. Not only are they without a first-round pick this year, but the Texans gave the Dolphins their 2021 first-round pick, too. It’s now or never for Bill O’Brien and Deshaun Watson, who suddenly are watching their championship window dwindle.

Final Grades

Listen, I can’t stand grading trades right after they happen. At the very least, it takes about three years for the full ramifications of a trade to unfold, especially when future draft picks are involved. However, these are easy initial grades to make.

Next. NFL Free Agency: One player each team should sign. dark

Arizona Cardinals: A – They stole an elite wide receiver to pair with their young quarterback, while also shaking off a bad contract. Next, please.

Houston Texans: D – Maybe David Johnson stays healthy and becomes the difference-maker O’Brien always wanted. Maybe those two draft picks become the next big things down in Texas. For now, we can only analyze the deal based on current assets. And currently, the Texans got a lot worse today.