Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson trade is the latest blunder made by Houston in the past year alone


It turns out, running an NFL franchise without a real general manager is not a good idea. 

On Monday, the Houston Texans added to their year of hell by completing one of the worst trades in recent memory, supplying even more evidence to the idea that general managers with coherent long-term visions for team building actually do matter. That might seem like an overtly obvious statement, but apparently, the Texans, who spent the past year without a general manager before recently adding the title to coach Bill O’Brien’s list of responsibilities, still haven’t gotten the memo.

On Monday, the Texans decimated whatever positive reputation the franchise still had by trading away superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who might just be the league’s best receiver at the age of 27 with three more years remaining on his contract. In return, the Texans did not get a first-round pick from the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, the Texans settled for 28-year-old running back David Johnson, who hasn’t been a star player since 2016 — when Deshaun Watson was still the quarterback at Clemson — but is under contract at the price of a star player, plus a 2020 second rounder and a 2021 fourth rounder. The Texans also sent a fourth-round pick to the Cardinals to sweeten the deal, because, well — the truth is, there simply isn’t a justifiable explanation for any aspects of the trade from Houston’s perspective.

It’s been a rotten year for the Texans, despite capturing their second straight division title this past season. The decision to trade away their best player not named Deshaun Watson for an overpaid and declining running back is quite clearly the worst move they’ve made in that span, but it’s not the only idiotic decision they’ve made. This is not a case of a smart team making one mistake. This is a dumb team that continues to make dumb deal after dumb deal. 

With all that in mind, let’s run through everything that’s gone wrong for the Texans in the past year alone, in chronological order. We begin with the 2019 NFL Draft.

1. Jumped in the draft for Andre Dillard 

O’Brien is going get a ton of deserved blame in this story. But in his defense, the problems actually began before he was the de facto general manager. 

The Texans, with then-GM Brian Gaine, entered the 2019 NFL Draft knowing full well that they needed to address their offensive line after Watson got sacked 62 times during the 2018 season. Sitting at No. 23 in the draft order, things appeared to be falling into place as top pass-blocking offensive tackle Andre Dillard out of Washington State went unselected through the first 21 picks. But disaster struck at No. 22, when the Eagles traded up from No. 25 to steal Dillard away from the Texans one pick before they were on the clock. The Texans were forced to settle for offensive tackle Tytus Howard, a raw prospect that most did not expect to be a Day 1 pick.

Remember this moment, because the repercussions extended beyond the draft.

2. Caught tampering by the Patriots

In June, the Texans surprisingly fired Gaine. To replace Gaine, the Texans targeted Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. The only problem? The Patriots caught wind and filed tampering charges against the Texans

From our story at the time:

The Patriots claimed that Easterby spoke to Caserio about the Texans’ general manager position at the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony last week. The next day, the Texans fired Gaine, who has since been accused of discriminating against African-Americans. As Pro Football Talk reported on Wednesday when the Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans, the Patriots had photos, videos, and “other proof” of interactions between Caserio and Easterby at the ceremony. 

The Texans responded by halting their pursuit of Caserio to avoid a potential fine or even the loss of a draft pick. It left them without their top GM target. 

It was an embarrassing result for the Texans, who — and this part cannot be understated — allegedly tried to steal the Patriots’ director of player personnel by talking to him about the job at Robert Kraft’s house during the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony. 

3. Decide not to hire a GM

In July, the Texans decided that they wouldn’t hire a general manager. Instead, they divvied up responsibilities between Matt Bazirgan (The Texans’ director of player personnel), James Liipfert (Director of college scouting), Chris Olsen (Senior vice president of football administrations), and Jack Easterby (executive vice president, team development).  

Again, not having a general manager — someone to make and execute a long-term plan with the goal of attaining sustained success — is bad. The Texans apparently did not realize this.

4. Give away Jadeveon Clowney 

A month-and-a-half later, the Texans traded away their best defensive player (depending on how you feel about the great J.J. Watt at this stage of his career), Jadeveon Clowney, who did not want to stay in Houston and play under the franchise tag. The only problem? The Texans didn’t get a great return for a premier edge defender. 

To acquire Clowney, the Seahawks sent Houston Barkevious Mingo, Jacob Martin, and a 2020 third-round draft pick. Neither player, obviously, was able to adequately replace Clowney.

5. Give up two first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil

The Texans followed up the Clowney deal by sending two first-round picks to Miami for Laremy Tunsil, a good but not great left tackle — there were other players and picks involved in the deal, but those are the important pieces. Remember how the Texans failed to land Dillard in the draft? That failure pretty much led to them overpaying to make this deal, knowing that they couldn’t afford to let Watson get killed behind that offensive line again. In other words, they were acting out of desperation. 

What’s problematic is that Tunsil now requires a pricey long-term deal. His current deal expires after the 2020 season. If the Texans had drafted Dillard, they would’ve had their left tackle under a cheap rookie contract. Now, if they want to keep Tunsil after giving up a king’s ransom for him, they’ll need to pay him a premium contract. 

Also problematic: The Texans don’t have a first-round pick until 2022.

6. Blow 24-point lead to Chiefs

The Texans losing in the playoffs isn’t surprising. Losing to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City isn’t embarrassing. But building a 24-point lead and still losing by 20 points is both surprising and embarrassing.

7. Promote O’Brien, Easterby 

In January, the Texans made it official: This is O’Brien’s team. He was named general manager. Easterby was also promoted, completing a remarkable rise from Patriots character coach to Texans executive vice president of football operations. Meanwhile, Caserio agreed to a contract extension to remain with the Patriots this offseason.

8. Make worst trade ever

That brings us to Monday, when Houston shipped Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona for Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick. It’s ridiculous that the Texans even entertained the idea of trading Hopkins. It’s even more ridiculous that they traded him for a declining running back with an expensive contract without acquiring at least one first-round pick in return.

Then again, nobody should be surprised given everything the Texans have done over the past year.

Not great, BOB.





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