Texans-Cardinals trade grade: Arizona fleeces Houston in DeAndre Hopkins-for-David Johnson swap


It wouldn’t be NFL free agency without a bombshell move to get the festivities started with a bang, and this time it’s the Houston Texans who launched the nuke. With legal tampering officially underway on Monday, March 16 and free agency to begin two days later — the NFL refusing to push back despite coronavirus concerns — the Texans struck a mind-blowing deal to send wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. 

If you need a moment to pick your jaw up off of the floor, by all means, take your time.

The Texans are being soundly thumped by media and fans alike for signing off on this trade, and rightfully so. Despite Johnson having proving himself capable of being an impact running back and receiver out of the backfield, he simply hasn’t done nearly enough to warrant comparing his value to that of Hopkins. What the latter has meant for the development of Deshaun Watson is evident, and his absence will be felt immediately — regardless of who they may draft to supposedly replace him.

That said, let’s take a look at the grade each team landed in this trade, and they should come as no surprise. 

Texans: F

There’s no point in beating around the bush here. Instead, let’s grab the mower and barrel right through it, which is exactly what the Texans did to any and all sense of logic before striking this deal. It’s virtually impossible to fathom a scenario wherein a team would trade arguably the best wide receiver in the league (third-best, at worst) in exchange for a running back. Now let’s take it a step further and note the running back in question was demoted in 2019, and who is far from guaranteed to return to his prime form simply because he’s in a new locale. 

But wait, there’s more.

The Texans are also taking on the entire brunt of Johnson’s contract, to the tune of a combined $20 million cap hit over the next two seasons — despite Johnson having only one 1,000-yard season under his belt in five tries. For the Texans, it would take Johnson becoming a 2,000-yard from scrimmage back over each year over the next two, and then signing an extension in Houston and continuing that level of dominance after the dreaded RB apex of 30 years old in order to justify shipping away Hopkins in his prime. 

Try explaining this all to Watson with a straight face.

Cardinals: A+

Kudos to the Cardinals for convincing the Texans to chew off their own arm. In exchange for dumping Johnson’s heavy salary, they were only forced to package a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick to land a top-three wideout who’s also only 27 years old. They’ll now combine him with future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald — who has committed to returning in 2020 — and former second-round pick Christian Kirk, giving Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray some serious firepower going forward.

The club has also issued a tender on Kenyan Drake, who is the reason Johnson was demoted and ultimately shipped out in the first place.

It can’t be overstated how great a deal this is for Arizona, who no longer needs to look for a wide receiver in the first or second round of this year’s draft. Even after Fitzgerald does decide to hang up his cleats, the club is all set with Kirk and an absolute dynamo in Hopkins — and it only cost them picks that, odds are, would never be able to match what Hopkins impact at the NFL level. In only seven seasons, he’s amassed 8,602 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns, some of them being the most eye-popping receptions ever witnessed. 

This is what the Cardinals are getting, and this is what the Texans figured it was OK to give up only months before asking their franchise quarterback to commit to a long-term deal. 





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