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Trade grades: Cardinals unanimous winner of DeAndre Hopkins deal

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Breaking news: the Arizona Cardinals won the DeAndre Hopkins trade.

To receive Hopkins and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cardinals sent running back David Johnson, a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a fourth-rounder in 2021 to the Houston Texans.

The trade looked even better on Monday night when the Buffalo Bills gave up a first, fifth and a sixth rounder in this year’s draft plus a 2021 fourth-round pick in exchange for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick.

Here are what some of the major outlets graded the trade for the Cardinals.

ESPN: B+

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is rare to hand out an A+, so take that B+ as high praise.

Barnwell starts by going over why getting rid of Johnson, who “should have had negative trade value” according to Barnwell, is such a win for the Cardinals and a disaster for Houston.

Johnson would likely be in line to get a one-year deal in the $2 million range if he hit the open market. Instead, his $10.2 million base salary is already guaranteed for 2020, and $2.1 million of his base salary in 2021 guarantees in five days. Throw in $960,000 in per-game roster bonuses and the Texans are on the hook for more than $13 million for Johnson over the next 12 months.

Barnwell estimates the price of getting rid of that is a third-round pick, but instead, the Cardinals avoided doing so.

Instead of sending a third-round pick to ship off Johnson, the Cardinals somehow managed to ship off Johnson by swapping fourth-round picks with the Texans. When you consider that the Texans are sending their 2020 fourth-rounder and getting a 2021 fourth-rounder in return, most teams would actually consider the pick swap a win for the Cardinals. I honestly admire Arizona general manager Steve Keim’s audacity in even asking to swap fourth-rounders; it’s as if someone offered you $1,000 for your VHS copy of “Mr. Deeds” and you asked that person for more before saying yes.

Barnwell states the other half of the deal involving Hopkins and the second-round pick is “somehow even worse” and that no matter the questions asked of what the Cardinals do next, they are huge winners.

CBS Sports: A+

CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker commends the Cardinals for the move.

It can’t be overstated how great a deal this is for Arizona, who no longer needs to look for a wide receiver in the first or second round of this year’s draft. Even after Fitzgerald does decide to hang up his cleats, the club is all set with Kirk and an absolute dynamo in Hopkins — and it only cost them picks that, odds are, would never be able to match what Hopkins impact at the NFL level. In only seven seasons, he’s amassed 8,602 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns, some of them being the most eye-popping receptions ever witnessed.

Sporting News: A

Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News is a fan of Hopkins coming in and also the seamless transition at running back.

Johnson was a tough contract to dump, but the Cardinals lucked out in getting a taker in the Texans. He was a completely expendable offensive cog with Kenyan Drake, who was transition tagged, taking over as Kingsbury’s prolific feature back of choice down the stretch last season.

SB Nation: A

The staff over at SB Nation has doubts of this trade even being real.

This value was lost on the Texans, who had no interest in working out an extension with Hopkins and shipped him out of town in what may be an elaborate prank on quarterback Deshaun Watson.


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