As Profootballtalk.com's Josh Alper noted, there was chatter about trades involving Cardinals running back David Johnson
and Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins
on Monday morning.
They were traded for each other on Monday afternoon.
Houston is also sending a fourth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for Johnson, a second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder.
It's a massive deal that has widespread repercussions.
The Cardinals picked up one of the best receivers in football to pair with Larry Fitzgerald
and rising wideout Christian Kirk
. Arizona headed into the offseason looking to add a stud wideout to the group. Most figured they'd pluck one from the draft. Instead, Arizona added one of the best veteran pass-catchers in the entire NFL.
NFL Network's Jim Trotter spoke with Fitzgerald, who said: “Excited to play with one of the best in the business. Also happy for David to get a fresh start so he can get back to his all pro potential.”
In seven seasons in Houston, Hopkins compiled 8,602 receiving yards, including five years over the 1,100-yard receiving mark. As NFL.com put it, Hopkins was Deshaun Watson
's go-to receiver and a third-down menace. Last season, on third down, Texans wideouts -- thanks most notably to the connection between Watson and Hopkins -- earned a 65.5 percent catch rate, the highest in the NFL.
For a team that has struggled to stay healthy at wideout outside of Hopkins, replacing him will be difficult in Houston. The team's current receiver corps is led by Kenny Stills
, Will Fuller
and Keke Coutee
The oft-injured Fuller is headed into the final year of his rookie deal. When healthy, he unlocks Houston's deep passing game, but the combination of Fuller's availability questions and an especially strong receiver market will come into play as the team decides what to do with him going forward.
That said, Hopkins' departure will create opportunities.
Houston's loss is Kyler Murray
's gain in Arizona.
Houston also found a running back and relieved the Cardinals of an onerous contract.
The Texans needed backfield help with both Carlos Hyde
and Lamar Miller
set to hit free agency. The Texans watched Hyde morph from an afterthought into their lead 1,000-yard back. The bet is O'Brien thinks he can do the same with David Johnson
joining fellow dual-threat Duke Johnson
Since signing his big-money deal in 2018, the 28-year-old running back has struggled. In 2018, he lacked pop coming off a wrist injury, earning just 3.6 yards per carry on 258 totes. Last season, despite Kliff Kingsbury
taking over, Johnson could never find the juice as he dealt with injury and ineffective play.
Johnson also dealt with a back injury early in the 2019 season and later had an ankle issue that kept him out of most of a Week 7 game against the Giants and the next week in New Orleans. Arizona traded for Kenyan Drake
the week of the Saints game.
Watching Drake explode in Kingsbury's offense underscored Johnson's struggles. His contract, however, was considered too inconvenient to move. Arizona, however, found a willing partner in Houston.
The trade of Johnson adds further context to the Cardinals' decision to use the transition tag on Drake. The estimated $8.4 million tender gives Arizona the right to match any offer Drake receives.
Playing in the best division in football, Arizona now sports an offense with Murray, Hopkins, Fitzgerald, Kirk, and possibly Drake.
For what it's worth, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT's Mike Florio, the Cardinals and Hopkins will be working on a contract that will replace the final three years of his current deal, at $12.5 million, $13.5 million, and $13.915 million. None of the salaries are fully guaranteed.
Hopkins’ contract had a new-money average of $16.2 million when signed in 2017.
From a fantasy perspective, NFL.com's Mike Florio notes that Hopkins, the top wide receiver picked in most 2019 fantasy drafts, produced a combined 10 top-20 performances and ranked
in a tie for the second-most 20-plus point games at the position. Hopkins also finished second in terms of top-5 finishes with four.
Only Michael Thomas
(9) had more.
It'll definitely be interesting to see how Hopkins fares in the desert -- and how much room he adds to Murray's ceiling.