Rivera: Hopkins trade surprised Washington ‘like everybody else’

Sep 16, 2020, 6:45 PM | Updated: 7:26 pm

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a pass against San Francisco 49ers cor...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a pass against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (41) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

(AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

The Washington Football Team is as desperate as any to improve its wide receiver corps.

With the exception of surprise Terry McLaurin, a 2019 third-round pick who finished 81 yards short of 1,000 last year, first-year head coach Ron Rivera’s team is searching for target upgrades to help second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.

This week, they’ve tried to comb through the free agent pool by working out four receivers, including former Arizona Cardinal Hakeem Butler. Last Sunday, former Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas led the team with eight targets from his tight end position.

It would have been nice, then, if Washington had known in March that one of the best receivers in the game, DeAndre Hopkins, was on the trading block for the Houston Texans.

“No, we had no sense he was on the market,” Rivera told Washington reporters Wednesday.

Asked if he was surprised that the Texans, led by coach and executive Bill O’Brien, traded Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, Rivera responded with the affirmative.

“Yeah, just like everybody else,” he said. “We were all surprised. Here’s a talented player playing for a team he had played very well for and they traded him. It was a decision that was made on another team.”

Indeed it was. As you might’ve heard, the Cardinals traded running back David Johnson in a deal that also included three draft picks. The swap was viewed as a steal for Arizona at the time.

The Texans acquired the Cardinals’ second-round pick in 2020 and fourth-round pick in 2021. But they also sent Arizona a 2020 fourth-rounder that ended up being used by the Cardinals to select nose tackle Rashard Lawrence.

Johnson had a fine debut for Houston, taking 11 carries for 77 yards and a score this weekend. Hopkins’ 14 catches for 151 yards Sunday in Arizona’s win over the 49ers showed his impact for the Cardinals.

Still, the offseason trade compared to those of other top receivers looked far from a good one.

The Minnesota Vikings, for example, sent Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills for a 2020 first-rounder (No. 22 overall), a 2020 fifth-rounder, a 2020 sixth-rounder and a 2021 fourth-rounder. Minnesota also shipped a seventh-round pick Buffalo’s way.

Rivera’s comments Wednesday seem to indicate that Houston didn’t do the best job building a market to trade away Hopkins, a four-time Pro Bowler in his prime.

Maybe that’s because they were doing Hopkins a solid by sending him to a destination that, from the receiver’s comments since, was appealing. The Texans appear to value Johnson’s abilities, which shouldn’t go without mention, and it’s true that not many teams other than Arizona wanted to deal with Hopkins’ desire to rework his contract situation.

Only those with quarterbacks on rookie deals might’ve been able to do that — though again, Haskins’ contract is even smaller than Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray’s.

The evidence still points to the Texans missing an opportunity to get a little more for one of the best receivers in the game.

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