ARIZONA CARDINALS

J.J. Watt: DeAndre Hopkins trade ‘catches your eye, that’s for sure’

May 5, 2020, 9:41 AM | Updated: 8:29 pm

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during...

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the football game between the New York Giants and Houston Texans on September 23, 2018 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt is like the rest of us. When his team traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, it was an eyebrow-raiser.

A team trading one of its best players is a big deal no matter what, but the return Houston got for Hopkins was the point of much discussion and controversy. For an elite wideout, Houston fetched a second-round pick and David Johnson, who has high upside as a running back but is getting paid a heaping load of money for little production of late.

Arizona won the trade by virtually all accounts.

So Watt, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, seemed to have chosen his words carefully when describing his reaction to the Hopkins deal.

“Anytime you have a guy like Hop, who in my opinion, has the best hands in the game and is obviously one of the top receivers of the game, it certainly catches your eye, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s always tough to lose a guy like that, no matter what the situation is.

“It’s above my pay grade and it’s something that obviously the team and the organization feels is in the best interest of the team. So as a player on the team, I do my job and I go to work and I play the games, and the GM and the owners, they do their job and they try and do what they feel is best for the team. And so, all I can do is show up and go to work and hope that all the guys that we have are great contributors to our team.”

Those comments don’t sound like they came from someone who’s a big fan of the Hopkins deal, and why would he be? Watt did mention the owners, who ultimately foot the bill for big-money contracts, and GM/coach Bill O’Brien cited Hopkins’ desire for a new deal as part of the logic of trading him.

“I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team,” O’Brien said during a season ticket holders town hall meeting in early April. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player for us here. … We love DeAndre Hopkins, but he had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. We weren’t going to be able to go in that direction.”

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