The Houston Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a move the Texans announced Saturday after it was widely reported on Monday. As part of the trade, the Cardinals will send the Texans a second-round pick in this year's draft (40th overall) and a fourth-round pick in 2021. The Cardinals will receive a fourth-round selection from Houston, which is now known to be the 25th pick in the round (131 overall).
Hopkins has been one of the best receivers in football for the past several years, and goes 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.
The Pick Six Podcast fired up an emergency episode to break down the deal. Check it out below, and be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform:
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. In other roster moves, the Texans agreed to terms with Randall Cobb, Eric Murray, Brent Qvale, and Jaylen Watkins.
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.
Sportsline's Stephen Oh simulated the impact of the swap on the fortunes of both teams, and it indeed looks like a far more favorable trade for the Cardinals than the Texans.
|w/ DeAndre Hopkins||7.3||45.6%||3.3%||16.4%||0.7%||0.3%|
It's important to note that while 0.8 wins does not seem like a massive impact, that's only because the season is just 16 games long. (Oh notes that it's the equivalent of an NBA team changing its win total by 4-8 wins.) Also of note is the column showing the impact of the teams' respective chances of making the playoffs. Houston sees its postseason probability cut by more than a third, while the Cardinals' nearly doubles. That better showcases just how impactful the trade is for each side.