Rapid reaction: Cardinals agree to acquire DeAndre Hopkins
The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly agreed to send running back David Johnson to the Houston Texans in exchange for four-time Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins.
Draft assets were also exchanged, but as Arizona also transition-tagged running back Kenyan Drake, the move effectively gives the Cardinals a dominant No. 1 receiver to pair with quarterback Kyler Murray.
By most accounts, it’s a huge upgrade considering Johnson struggled to earn playing time with Drake taking the large majority of the carries in 2019.
Here’s what the Arizona Sports staff thinks about the trade that on Monday shook up the NFL just as the free agent negotiating window opened.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Stunned. Can’t believe that Texans coach and GM Bill O’Brien would make such an asset available at such a low cost to the Cards. To get one of the elite WRs in the NFL for a running back that had no part of your future is shocking. Steve Keim went from being one of the most maligned front office execs in Phoenix to one of the most popular dudes in town.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
What a steal! I’ve long doubted the on-field decisions of Bill O’Brien as an NFL head coach, but now I can do the same about his executive skills. Maybe the relationship with DeAndre Hopkins had soured, but the Texans needed to get more than they did for him. That being said, welcome to Arizona to arguably the best wide receiver in football! I also hope this change of scenery gives David Johnson a chance to figure things out — he’s an easy guy to root for.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski and reporter
I just don’t understand what Bill O’Brien is thinking. And I’m not even one of those people that automatically assumes David Johnson’s career is over. The Texans will give him every chance to succeed (they have to now), and maybe he rediscovers his game in Houston. But the Cardinals weren’t even throwing him the ball the last two months of 2019. They were completely done with him. He really should’ve had zero trade value.
Instead, Arizona gets one of the NFL’s top three or four receivers in exchange for someone Steve Keim desperately needed to move. The passing game is set. Now the Cards can just hammer defense early in the draft and potentially turn this around faster than anyone expected. And if a good receiver drops to the third or fourth round, they could even scoop him up and be truly scary on offense.
Lost in all this is the fact the league just added two additional playoff spots over the weekend, too. Not that Arizona’s suddenly heading to the postseason now, but it’s not such a crazy concept anymore. Granted, the Cards are still in arguably the toughest division in football, but lopsided deals like this are the kind of moves that can turn you around in a hurry. And would it really shock you if three teams from the NFC West got in?
Even if Johnson thrives in Houston, it’s still a good trade for Arizona. So no, I don’t understand what O’Brien is doing. I hope this doesn’t get him fired though, because the Cardinals might need another good player from him next year.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
Look, this is obviously a heist on the scale of the ones from the incredible Fast and Furious franchise in terms of realism. Remember when Vin Diesel crashed his car into a railing while standing on the car’s door, jumped from one side of an elevated highway to another, caught a human being in mid-air and used a car windshield as his landing cushion? Like I said, incredible. Oh, and also incredibly unrealistic.
That’s this trade. It seemed like someone hacked all the reporters involved at once to manufacture some much-needed sports news to distract us. And yet, the power of Bill O’Brien means anything is possible.
Anyway, DeAndre Hopkins is unbelievable. I think most here in the Valley don’t even know how good he is and are going to be blown away by him once he suits up. Hopkins in his prime, aka right freaking now, is within reach of Fitz in his prime. Yes, that good.
By the way, they should still draft CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy. Blow this thing open.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
On the surface this seems like highway robbery. The Cards get rid of a disgruntled player they don’t want for a top-five receiver in the league and they don’t give up a first-round pick to do it? Now Kyler Murray has DeAndre Hopkins and will have a full season of Kenyan Drake as his top two weapons on an offense that was already the most improved in the NFL last season. And get this — the Texans are paying all of Johnson’s salary!
This is the best trade Cardinals GM Steve Keim has ever made and it’s not even close — nothing against the Carson Palmer deal, which was a great trade. Hopkins is 27 and under contract for the next three years at $40 million. The Cards now don’t have to draft a WR and can get defensive help or OL help with the eighth pick. They give up only a second this year and fourth next year and they get a fourth back. Crazy stuff. I don’t understand how this makes sense for Houston, which doesn’t have a first-round pick this year and no first or second next year. You have to think this is the type of deal that can cost Bill O’Brien his job. I’m sure they are not too happy in Houston right now. And I’m also sure the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks are a lot more nervous about the Arizona Cardinals for next season.
Ron Wolfley, co-host of Doug & Wolf
“I think the Arizona Cardinals got a huge, huge lift today with this trade,” Wolfley said on Bickley & Marotta of Arizona Sports. “All I think of is 11-personnel … I think of one back, one tight end, three wide receivers and what that is going to do with Kyler Murray. It was the No. 1 personnel group in run-down situation, which is 1st-and-10, second-and-1 to 6.
“Eleven personnel is where they want to be for run-down situation. DeAndre Hopkins is not guy that is explosive like a Tyreek Hill … run by you all day long type of guy, but he is the original (Oklahoma Sooners draft prospect) CeeDee Lamb. He is the original.
“DeAndre Hopkins, one of my favorite wide receivers in the National Football League. Here’s a guy that is big, a guy that competes and a guy that is rare — rare when it comes to his hands. This is a guy that’s got situational awareness, like a fighter pilot has situational awareness. There is nobody better on the sidelines that DeAndre Hopkins. There’s nobody better in the back of the end zone than DeAndre Hopkins. There’s nobody better when it comes to body control when he’s near the lines. That’s where this guy excels. ”
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
I probably would have blocked any Twitter nut job who offered me this trade. From now on, any sports talk trade speculation is fair game because any trade offered by fans won’t be as bad as this one. What is Bill O’Brien doing?
From a Cards standpoint, they traded someone with no future on the team, got out from that contract and received one of the best players in football. I never thought I would know what it was like to experience the Frank Robinson trade from the Reds to the Orioles in my own lifetime. I’m not saying DeAndre Hopkins will win the triple crown, but this trade feels just as lopsided.
Paul Calvisi, anchor for Doug & Wolf
Let’s see: The Cards traded their third-string running back and a second-round pick for a Pro Bowl receiver and a fourth-round pick. In the process, they filled their biggest need on offense plus jettisoned the worst contract under their salary cap. This rivals the last time Steve Keim traded away a second rounder and a prominent player — when the net result was All-Pro Chandler Jones. #Ding.
Jordan Byrd, Arizona Sports Saturday host and producer for Burns & Gambo
Wow! Never did I think the Cardinals would have been able to trade David Johnson and not still have to pay some of his contract. The fact the Johnson is completely off Arizona’s books and they get an elite wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins is exciting and amazing work by Steve Keim. Having Hopkins in the fold now allows the Cards to legitimately take the best player available at #8 in the draft too. Whether that be an OL or defensive player, draft day options just opened up even more for Arizona.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and Cardinals reporter
For a near-even exchange when salaries are concerned (OverTheCap.com has a $6 million penalty in dead money if Johnson is traded in 2020), the Cardinals dealt a running back who wouldn’t see time on the field unless he played receiver for a true, real life, No. 1, top wideout. Just think about that.
Draft picks were involved, sure, but Arizona can worry about that later if this team, which is now looking pretty darn intriguing on paper, somehow falls flat on its face.
The production that Hopkins can provide obviously speaks for itself. He’s 27 years old and locked in for the next few seasons. Consider that he’ll take the baton from Larry Fitzgerald and give Kyler Murray a red zone (and otherwise) difference-maker, and it’s clear Steve Keim is not waiting around for receivers in his 2019 draft class or any picked in the 2020 draft to develop favorably.
Looking forward, the next question is this: Does Keim even more aggressively try to give head coach Kliff Kingsbury an offense elite in dynamic talent by adding another receiver at No. 8? Or does he do the safe thing and draft an offensive lineman or turn the attention toward a defense that could use such injections of talent that Hopkins brings to the offense?