It turns out, the Texans did shop around to at least one other team. It seems they simply valued Johnson highly enough to make that deal, which was Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for Johnson, a second- and fourth-round pick.
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was asked Thursday about the Hopkins deal and why the receiver-needy Eagles didn’t land him. They did trade draft picks to the Detroit Lions for cornerback Darius Slay.
Roseman had an interesting answer. The trade the Texans wanted from the Eagles wasn’t the same one the Cardinals got.
Texans didn’t offer same DeAndre Hopkins deal to Eagles
In a conference call, Roseman didn’t offer specifics but mentioned that the Eagles weren’t offered the same deal the Cardinals ended up getting.
Asked about the DeAndre Hopkins trade, Howie Roseman indicates that the Texans weren't offering the same deal to the Eagles that the Cardinals go.— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) March 26, 2020
Roseman when asked why #Eagles were willing to give up picks for Darius Slay and not DeAndre Hopkins, alluded to Texans' demands being different than they were for Cards. "It's not apples to apples." Also said could do more with Slay's extension vs. possible one for Hopkins.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 26, 2020
Re: Not pulling trigger on Hopkins trade, Howie Roseman says that trade asks varies from team to team. It's not apples-to-apples.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) March 26, 2020
I guess the Texans really wanted David Johnson.
You can imagine there was frustration in the Eagles’ offices — and presumably many NFL front offices — when they saw the trade go down. It is universally considered one-sided in the Cardinals’ favor. Johnson’s contract was an anchor for the Cardinals, and Hopkins is a Hall-of-Fame talent. It made no sense to most, but it obviously made sense in Houston.
It’s probably fair to assume the Eagles and Cardinals weren’t the only two teams that called Houston. For whatever reason, they just liked the Cardinals’ offer best.
Why did Texans prefer Arizona’s offer?
Let’s try to figure out the mindset of Texans coach/GM Bill O’Brien as he made this deal. Let’s ignore that the Texans shouldn’t have been trading Hopkins at all, but would have been better off giving him the pay raise he reportedly wanted.
Johnson at one point nearly won NFL offensive player of the year. He had 2,118 total yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2016. In the NFL Network’s (highly flawed) top 100 players countdown, Johnson was No. 12 on the list released in 2017. We have seen him be the best running back in football albeit a few years ago. Since then he dealt with a wrist injury that cut short almost his entire 2017, a poor scheme and play-calling in 2018 and then maybe he just didn’t fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense in 2019. In the Texans’ opinion, those factors must have led to Johnson’s precipitous fall.
You can at least talk yourself into Johnson still being a good player at age 28 for the Texans, though you have to make a lot of assumptions (and you’d still rather have peak Hopkins than peak Johnson). And the Cardinals’ second-round pick is better than the Eagles’ second-round pick (40th vs. 53rd), if that was a factor. Regardless, we can put the puzzle together and guess the Eagles must have thought the Texans were asking too much, but then Philadelphia was surprised to see the relatively light package the Cardinals gave up. That had to come down to the Texans valuing Johnson higher than any other team would.
Either way, other teams did talk to the Texans about Hopkins. Don’t blame your favorite team’s general manager for not matching the Cardinals’ offer. The offer they settled on apparently wasn’t made to everyone else.
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