Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was surprised that the organization traded away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the offseason, but he accepts that it was a decision made by the front office.
The Texans traded away Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick, which the Cardinals used on defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence, to Arizona in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, used on defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
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“Anytime you have a guy like Hop, who in my opinion, has the best hands in the game and is obviously one of the top receivers of the game, it certainly catches your eye, that’s for sure,” Watt told Sports Illustrated. “It’s always tough to lose a guy like that, no matter what the situation is. It’s above my paygrade and it’s something that obviously the team and the organization feels is in the best interest of the team.
“So as a player on the team, I do my job and I go to work and I play the games, and the GM and the owners, they do their job and they try and do what they feel is best for the team,” he added. “And so, all I can do is show up and go to work and hope that all the guys that we have are great contributors to our team.”
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Hopkins, a first-team All-Pro selection the last three seasons, is an elite talent at the position, but head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien defended the decision to trade him away.
“It was in the best interest of our team,” O’Brien said to the Houston Chronicle. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise.”
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Hopkins had an interview with Sports Illustrated after the trade and said that there was “no relationship” between himself and O’Brien, and asking for a raise was an opportunity to get traded.