When the Cardinals acquired broad receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans in probably the most stunning commerce of the 2020 NFL offseason, it was instantly recognized as some of the lopsided trades in NFL historical past. When grading the move in March, Sporting Information gave Arizona a simple “A” and Houston a definitive “D”.
Seems, the Cardinals did not get sufficient credit score for one of many best-ever offers and the Texans ought to have been lambasted much more.
9 video games into the 2020 common season, the returns on the commerce confirmed the Playing cards have come up all aces with Hopkins whereas the Texans preserve folding, not using the person who made the commerce, former coach/GM Invoice O’Brien.
Hopkins, nonetheless solely 28, has been as marketed as an elite go-to broad receiver for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, stamped by his 43-yard game-winning Hail Mary TD reception in opposition to the Payments. Hopkins, in his first season with Arizona, to this point, has caught 67 of his 88 targets for 861 receiving yards and Four TDs. That places him on tempo for 119 catches, a profession excessive, together with 1,530 yards and seven TDs.
Even with no contributions from now-injured rookie defensive sort out Rashard Lawrence — the participant drafted with the fourth-round choose the Cardinals received with Hopkins — they’ve owned the commerce greater than anybody may think about.
The Texans received operating again David Johnson and his hefty contract in return, in addition to a second-round choose. Johnson put up solely 408 yards speeding, 16 receptions, 161 receiving yards and Four mixed TDs in his eight video games, earlier than he landed on short-term injured reserve with a concussion suffered in opposition to the Jaguars in Week 9.
With that additional second-rounder, the Texans took defensive sort out Ross Blacklock. Blacklock initially has seen only a few snaps of their rotation, struggling in a entrance seven that wants assist because the worst run protection within the NFL, giving up 167.Four yards speeding per sport at additionally a league-worst 5.2 yards per carry.
Let’s hope the Texans discover a transcendent steal of participant with their acquired fourth-rounder in 2021, as a result of for now, they merely made a horrible commerce that did not save them a lot cash or make their workforce higher.
What’s actually unhappy is what may have been with Deshaun Watson in 2020. Watson went from consistently overachieving regardless of O’Brien reined-in offensive teaching to now proving he can dig deep to turn into an excellent higher all-around quarterback with out Hopkins. Watson is ranking a career-best 107.0, on tempo for a career-high 32 passing TDs and 4,513 passing yards. His adjusted yards per try have shot as much as an unprecedented 8.9.
All of that’s going unnoticed as a result of the Texans have dropped to 2-7 after successful two straight AFC South titles. Do not confuse this with Watson being simply effective with the Texans changing Hopkins with a mixture of newcomer Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb flanking his new No. 1, Will Fuller. As an alternative, this hints at how excessive Watson’s ceiling may have gotten with Hopkins, in higher place to elevate his workforce into playoff competition by way of defensive points — very like Murray is doing with Hopkins in Arizona now.
The Texans gave Watson a profitable contract extension however took away his major, acquainted weapon as he enters the prime of his profession. Throughout a season when Houston wanted to be extra explosive and offensive-minded than ever, Watson is able to doing solely a lot now.
Elite, constant broad receivers are uncommon on this league. When a workforce has one, it often does not let him get away, particularly when hooked up to a top-flight passer. The Cardinals acknowledged the necessity for Murray to be paired with a participant reminiscent of Hopkins. The Texans failed to understand how a lot they closed their window for achievement with Watson — and getting him a high-price, growing older, wearing-down operating again was no comfort.