It wouldn’t be an NFL offseason without Bill O’Brien making a truly head-scratching move, and that’s exactly what happened on Monday to kick off the new league year. The Texans’ head coach and general manager traded three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for frequently-injured running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth rounder.
This trade makes no sense for Houston no matter how you slice it. Even if, for some reason, they were determined to trade a 27-year-old certified No. 1 receiver, the value they got in return was pennies on the dollar.
Hopkins has broken 1,000 yards receiving in five of the last six seasons, was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2019 and his 632 receptions over the first seven years of his career are tied with Antonio Brown for second most all time. In return for sending their best player to Arizona, the Texans got two picks and one of the worst contracts in all of football.
Johnson is 28 years old, played just nine games last season and hasn’t averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry since 2016. On top of that, he’ll be the third highest-paid running back in football in 2020, making $11,156,250, according to Over The Cap.
Johnson has the kind of contract you’d expect the Cardinals to have to attach a pick to in order to rid themselves of its financial burden, but Houston not only willingly took on that burden, it also gave up one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in return.
The result of O’Brien’s utter ineptitude is that the Cardinals have succeeded in getting Kyler Murray a true No. 1 threat to pair with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. But where does that leave Arizona in relation to the rest of the league?
Most sportsbooks had the Cardinals’ win total set at 5.5 prior to Monday’s trade, and that number has gone up by a win and a half and sits at 7 as of Tuesday.
Murray, the top pick in last season’s NFL Draft, is coming off a fantastic rookie year under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, where he threw for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 64.4 percent of his passes on his way to a Rookie of the Year Award.
The Cardinals slapped the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake earlier this offseason, ensuring he’ll be back after rushing for 643 yards in just eight games with Arizona following being acquired via trade from the Dolphins.
Adding Hopkins to an offense with young talent like Murray, Drake and Kirk and a veteran leader like Fitzgerald immediately takes them from potential surprise team in 2020 to borderline playoff threat.
The Cardinals also added defensive tackle Jordan Phillips on Tuesday, signing the former Bill to a 3-year, $30-million deal. The biggest question mark for Arizona is going to be how it’ll perform in the brutal NFC West.
Don’t expect any type of drop off from the 49ers, last season’s NFC champions, and you can always count on the Seahawks to compete as long as Russell Wilson is under center. I think the Cardinals will probably be neck and neck with an aging Rams team that regressed last year.
The Cardinals finished 5-10-1 and managed only one NFC West win in 2019, a Week 16 victory over the Seahawks, but I don’t think it would be outrageous to see them win three division games in 2020. The Cardinals have a bunch of winnable games on the schedule, hosting the Dolphins, Bills and Lions with road games against the Giants, Jets and Panthers.
I think over seven wins is easily attainable for Murray, Hopkins and the rest of the Cardinals. I’ll be backing the over on their win total this year.