No surprise: Cards WR Hopkins knew Texans were shopping him in 2019
Arizona Cardinals fans got a surprise when on March 16 when the Houston Texans traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Valley.
To Hopkins, this was a long time coming.
“I wasn’t surprised at all I was traded,” he said on a conference call with reporters Friday.
Texans general manager Bill O’Brien did not make a spur-of-the-moment decision to trade the receiver to Arizona. Hopkins first heard the Texans were shopping him near the beginning of last season.
“I kind of heard little talks about being traded really last year, the beginning of last year from some people that I felt like I trusted that actually knew,” Hopkins said.
This follows the timeline of some national reporting, including that of The Athletic’s Mike Sando, who quoted an NFL executive as saying Houston had been looking to trade Hopkins for a year and a half.
Nevertheless, the team went through the 2019-20 season with Hopkins, who recorded his fifth season of at least 1,100 receiving yards and third with at least 100 receptions. In two playoff games, he had a total of 208 yards and 15 receptions.
Hopkins reportedly told the Texans he wanted a new contract in the $18 to $20 million per year range, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
Russini also reported that Hopkins threatened to not show up to training camp if he didn’t receive it. So Houston traded him to Arizona for a package that included running back David Johnson.
“They were at a point where they just wanted to move on,” the anonymous executive told Sando.
On the conference call, Hopkins did not get into details of his reported desire for a contract extension, saying he’s leaving discussions “between my agent and the organization.”
“DeAndre Hopkins just goes out, works out every day to prepare myself to get my team an opportunity to win a championship,” Hopkins said.
The importance of avoiding a holdout is amplified if Hopkins is to get acquainted with the Cardinals’ offense. During an offseason in which the coronavirus has already taken away the ability of Hopkins to meet his new teammates and could potentially disrupt offseason workouts, Hopkins must be a willing participant when the time arrives.
Luckily for the Cardinals, he has someone nearby who advised him against holding out in 2016 when Hopkins skipped a day of training camp. He said he sought the advice of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald during that time.
“He basically said, ‘Just go back. Even if you sit out one, two days, you don’t want to be that guy because your play is going to speak for itself,” Hopkins recalled.
It likely won’t be a concern. It would be a failure for the Cardinals front office to have not known about his demands before making the trade. President and chairman Michael Bidwill acknowledged in late March they had begun discussing a new deal.
When asked directly on the conference call if he would hold out if an agreement had not been met by the time training sessions began, Hopkins again emphasized that the negotiations are between his agent and the Cardinals.
“I’m going to do everything I can to catch up with the team,” he said.
Hopkins’ current contract dictates a $12.5 million salary this season, $13.5 million next season and just below $14 million in 2022, according to Sportrac.
Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones is the highest-paid wide receiver in the league with a $22.2 million salary this season.