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Report: DeAndre Hopkins wanted Texans to pay $18-20 million per year

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans celebrates in the endzone after an interference flag against Byron Jones #31 of the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals took everyone by surprise, but a report said the wide receiver wasn’t satisfied with his compensation in Houston.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini tweeted Wednesday that Hopkins’ representatives told the Texans weeks ago that he wanted a new contract in the range of $18 to $20 million per season, and that he would  hold out if he didn’t get the deal. Of course, Houston dealt Hopkins to Arizona with a 2020 fourth-round pick for David Johnson and two picks.

Ed Werder, also of ESPN, reported that the team recognized the coming need for new deals for quarterback Deshaun Watson and offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and also saw the Cardinals’ offer as the “best by far.”

Hopkins’ cap hit and base salary in 2020 are both $12.5 million, but he’s on a contract averaging $16.2 million per season over the course of five seasons. Of the contract’s $81 million value, $42 million is guaranteed, per Spotrac. The remaining money on his deal is not guaranteed.

At his $12.5 million salary this year, Hopkins will be the 12th-highest paid receiver in the NFL (Atlanta’s Julio Jones tops the list at $22.2 million). The reported contract sought of $18 to $20 million would’ve put Hopkins at no lower than third on the list of the league’s biggest salaries for pass-catchers.

Of course, the other side of this story is the story told on ESPN Wednesday morning by former NFL wideout Michael Irvin, who said Hopkins told him that Houston coach and GM Bill O’Brien met with Hopkins and compared him to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. O’Brien also allegedly complained about Hopkins having the mothers of his children around the team facility.

That, according to Irvin, is how the relationship between Hopkins and his coach went south. Hopkins responded quickly with a tweet saying he has “the utmost respect for Coach O’Brien and that will not change.”

Even if it’s true that Hopkins wanted a new deal, which is corroborated by The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reporting the same on Monday, the 27-year-old has routinely been among the most productive receivers in the league. He was fifth in the NFL in targets last year, fourth in catches and third in receiving first downs. He was 11th in receiving yards.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Monday that Hopkins and the Cardinals would be working out a new contract to replace the three years remaining on his current deal.

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