Earlier this offseason, the Texans and Cardinals agreed on a trade that will reshape both teams’ entire offense. This trade included the biggest WR-deal since Odell was traded to the Browns; with DeAndre Hopkins being traded to the Cardinals for David Johnson and draft picks. The Texans moved on to draft TCU DT Ross Blacklock with the 40th overall pick and will have the Cardinals 4th round pick in 2021.
When initially looking at this trade, it may be confusing as to why the Texans would have wanted this. With multiple seasons with well over 1,000 yards, Hopkins has cemented himself as arguably the best receiver in the League. Especially when considering the growth of QB Deshaun Watson, it seems strange to ship out his best receiver.
With that said, David Johnson isn’t a slouch either. Back in 2016, Johnson was the best running back in the League with over 2,000 total yards. Although injuries and limited attempts have hindered his progress, he is still a dynamic rusher with receiver-like pass catching ability.
For the Cardinals, reigning offensive ROY Kyler Murray will now have a dependable target to throw to. Additionally, by adding someone like Hopkins into their offense, Hopkins will draw out more coverage; creating more space for receivers like Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald.
This is especially good for the Cardinals now because while Fitzgerald still has amazing hands, he does not have the same break-away speed and athleticism that he used to have.
Last year, Murray finished the season with 3,722 passing yards. While these numbers aren’t necessarily impressive, they are when you consider the fact that Murray was a rookie, had no real ‘dominant’ receivers, and was on one of the worst offenses in the League. Now, imagine what will happen now that he has DeAndre Hopkins on his roster.
Although the Cardinals no longer have Johnson, it appears they have put their trust into Kenyan Drake; who has performed well thus far, but has yet to see a full load of carries. As long as Drake is able to at least keep the run-game going, the Cardinals should see a drastic improvement in their offense for 2020.
When first piecing together this trade for the Texans, two assumptions initially came to mind: 1) the Texans were likely trying to save money and 2) the Texans’ receiving game will look much worse in 2020. However, when looking more deeply into this trade, both of these assertions seem to be false.
First off, Hopkins still has 3 seasons left on his current contract and is set to make only $12.5 million this year. While this is certainly in the upper-half of salaries for wide receivers, Hopkins’ production could easily warrant him getting paid more. For reference, Hopkins’ current yearly salary is tied with now-Texan Brandin Cooks as the 7th highest salary for WRs. If the Texans were concerned about their money, they would have never traded for Cooks.
Second off, with the trade for Brandin Cooks, the Texans now have a lineup of especially fast wide receivers. With Will Fuller and Kenny Stills likely starting with Cooks, every starting receiver would be a downfield threat.
Even with the signing of Randall Cobb, the Texans have tried to fill in for Hopkins. Although the Texans are missing a true WR1, their receiving corps should be able to hold its own. With this, if David Johnson can return to a similar play as 2016, this trade could potentially end up being a win for the Texans.
This trade has a lot of potential to work out very well for both teams. Yes, it was very risky for the Texans to trade one of the top receivers in the League for a RB who hasn’t performed well recently. However, if Johnson is able to bounce back and if Watson is able to mesh well with his receivers, the Texans will have one of the most well-rounded offenses in the League next year.
For the Cardinals, by acquiring Hopkins, it seems very unlikely that this trade won’t work out for them. By putting up consistent numbers and being a reliable target, having Hopkins gives the Cardinals an automatic boost while also freeing up other wide receivers. This trade will likely not have many negative implications for the Cardinals as long as Drake is able to handle a full load of carries.
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