Reports: Cards get DeAndre Hopkins, trade David Johnson to Texans
The Arizona Cardinals swung big on the first day of free agency negotiating, agreeing to trade running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans for four-time Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Houston will take on all of Johnson’s salary, Schefter adds.
The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reports that Arizona is also acquiring a fourth-round pick this year. Houston will take the Cardinals’ second-round pick in 2020 and fourth-round pick in 2021.
The Cardinals on Monday committed to running back Kenyan Drake with a transition tag tender worth $8.5 million. Johnson will make a base salary of $10.2 million in 2020 with a cap hit of $14.2 million. He is due a base salary of $8 million in 2021 with a $12 million salary cap hit.
Hopkins is considered one of the top pass catchers in the league. Last season, Hopkins caught 104 balls for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. All told, he’s made 632 catches for 8,602 yards and 54 scores in 110 starts.
Hopkins is slated to make $12.5 million in 2020, $13.5 million in 2021 and $13.9 million in 2022 on his current deal.
Per Schefter, the trade gives Hopkins the opportunity for a new deal that Arizona can provide.
The Texans could lose Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller in free agency, while Duke Johnson projects as a No. 2 back.
Johnson, 28, has had a big dip in performance since being a First Team All-Pro in 2016.
That year, he went 15 straight games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage, tying the all-time record for one season. Johnson rumbled for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and an additional 80 catches for 879 yards and four receiving scores.
With hype at an all-time high and Johnson looked at as one of the best offensive weapons in football, he dislocated his wrist in Week 1 of the 2017 season, which ended his season.
After speculation and wonder about whether Arizona would lock up the running back long-term following a lost 2017, Johnson signed a three-year, $39 million contract extension with the Cardinals before the start of the 2018 season.
After mostly a year away, Johnson did not look like the same explosive force he once was. He still managed to produce within an anemic offense, though, rushing for 940 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 50 balls for 446 yards and three touchdowns.
Following that 3-13 single season under head coach Steve Wilks and under two offensive coordinators (Mike McCoy and Byron Leftwhich), a bounce-back season seemed in order for No. 31 in Kliff Kingsbury’s high-octane offense with Kyler Murray under center. But Johnson still looked like a shell of his former self.
He rushed for 345 yards and two touchdowns, racking up 36 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdowns through the air. In the second half of the season, Johnson would lose the starting job to Drake, a midseason acquisition who was transition-tagged by Arizona before free agent negotiations began Monday.
Johnson had 17 touches in the last four games of the season, and his 3.7 yards per carry paled in comparison to Drake’s (5.2) or Chase Edmonds’ (5.1) averages.
Johnson was open about his disappointment in his reduced role, and his wife used social media to express her own frustration about how Kingsbury was using him.
“In EIGHT football seasons… that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. SO MUCH TALENT. On a bench. we love you @davidjohnson31,” she captioned a post on her Instagram account.
Kingsbury took blame for not finding a role for Johnson and Edmonds once Drake separated himself as the starting running back. And while Keim criticized Johnson’s hole-hitting ability and indecisiveness, the running back said, “everyone has a different opinion.”
“It’s obviously been hard. Back in the past, I was in most, majority of the snaps,” Johnson said in November. “It’s been rough. I just got to move past it … make the most of every opportunity and just have positive yards or have positive plays.”