Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to Cardinals for David Johnson and draft picks, per reports

One of the most active teams in the trade market over the last year, the Houston Texans, are making another deal. According to multiple reports, the Texans will acquire running back David Johnson in a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reports the Texans will send DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals.

Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in football for the past several years, and now will go from being Deshaun Watson’s No. 1 target to being Kyler Murray’s. Arizona became a more efficient offense last season in the first year of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure, but struggled to get the ball outside the numbers through the air. Hopkins should help immensely in that respect, and allow Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk more room to operate in the underneath zones. 

Hopkins carries completely non-guaranteed base salaries of $12.5 million, $13.5 million, and $13.9 million over the next three years, per Spotrac, giving the Cardinals one of the biggest bargains in the league. The Texans, meanwhile, will now have a somewhat shorthanded receiver corps that features injury-prone Will Fuller as the top option, with Kenny Stills, Keke Coutee, and DeAndre Carter behind him.

For Houston, this is at least the third major trade it has made in the last year or so. The Texans previously sent multiple draft picks — including this year’s first-rounder — to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, with whom they have still yet to agree on a long-term contract. Houston had also previously traded for former Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson, who is set to count against their books for $4.1 million in 2020. 

David Johnson is heading into the second year of the three-year, $39 million extension he signed with the Cardinals. He will draw a base salary of $10.2 million and carry a cap hit of nearly $11.2 million next season. The Texans are reportedly taking on his entire salary, which means they will now be paying more money to the running back position than almost any team in the NFL.

David Johnson had a spectacular season for the Cardinals back in 2016, but has yet to recapture the same form since then. He missed all but one game in 2017 after breaking his wrist, then struggled in 2018 before being hit with the injury bug yet again in 2019. He was eventually surpassed on the depth chart by Kenyan Drake. 

Duke Johnson has been one of the most productive backs in the league on a per-touch basis and routinely ranks among the league leaders in broken tackle rate, but the Texans, like the Browns before them, seem to have pigeon-holed him as merely a third-down back. They gave the majority of their running back touches to Carlos Hyde last season even though he was far less productive than Johnson, and now they seemingly plan to pair Duke and David Johnson in the same fashion. 

Arizona now clears David Johnson’s cap hit off their books and may be in better position to retain Drake, whom they can pair with Chase Edmonds, who looked like a solid player in 2019 as well. All in all, the Cardinals are massively upgrading their offense at very little cost, while the Texans sacrificed one of the NFL’s best players for an unnecessary addition at one of the league’s least valuable positions, and did so while receiving only a second-round pick in return. 

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