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DeAndre Hopkins trade leaves NFL players flummoxed by Texans GM Bill O’Brien

Houston general manager and head coach Bill O'Brien didn't get as much for DeAndre Hopkins as many thought he should have. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

A week that kicks off NFL free agency got off to a stunning start with the reported trade Monday of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans to the Arizona Cardinals. Among those left slack-jawed at the development were a number of current and former NFL players, most of whom did not feel that the Texans got the better end of the deal.

Okay, that’s an understatement — the prevailing sentiment among NFL players appeared to be that Houston’s general manager and head coach, Bill O’Brien, was off his rocker for parting ways with one of the league’s best offensive players. Per reports, the trade has running back David Johnson and a second-round pick going to Houston in exchange for Hopkins, plus a swap of fourth-round picks.

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A couple of years ago, when Johnson was closer to a 2016 campaign in which he led the NFL with 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, this might have looked like a more even trade. However, he’ll turn 29 this season and still has two years left on a three-year, $39 million contract extension, making him old and expensive for a running back. That’s even before taking into account that it appeared last year Johnson’s various injuries had taken a major toll, likely leaving him much closer to the end of his career than to any kind of resurgence.

Add in the fact that the Texans didn’t get so much as a first-round pick back for their trouble, and perhaps it is little wonder that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cameron Heyward tweeted, “Man we need start drug testing some of these GM’s and coaches.” Heyward added an “lol” and the phrase, “questionable moves” as a hashtag, and he was retweeted by the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tyrann Mathieu, who added several laughing emoji and told Heyward, “man stop playing. ”

Other players appeared to agree with Heyward’s assessment, or at least its general sentiment, to judge from retweets by the New York Giants’ Golden Tate and the New Orleans Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens’ Robert Griffin III was moved to declare of the Hopkins trade, “I mean … WHAT A STEAL!!!”

A couple of the Texans’ own players indicated they were less than enthused, even though one of them, wide receiver Kenny Stills, stands to benefit from the trade in terms of playing time. Stills not only posted a GIF of the NBA’s Russell Westbrook looking extremely disdainful, but retweeted Mathieu’s amused reply to Heyward.

Houston’s star offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil, offered his two cents by using a face-palm emoji to reply to an NFL Instagram post announcing the trade. Others reacting to that post with disbelief included a number of fellow wide receivers, including the Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster (“This is crazy”), the New York Jets’ Jamison Crowder (“That’s wild”), the Chiefs’ Mecole Hardman (“Wow”), the Tennessee Titans’ A.J. Brown (“This [modified expletive] gotta be joke”) and the New England Patriots’ Mohamed Sanu (“Corona virus got y’all trippin …”).

A noted former Texan, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, also chimed in on the NFL post, reacting to news of the Hopkins trade by saying, “Crazy [expletive]," and adding a face-palm emoji. Clowney himself was traded away from Houston last year for a third-round pick and linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin, which made some wonder if the Texans got fair value for an impact player.

On Monday, two other former Texans saw fit to mock the Hopkins deal in no uncertain terms. Former star running back Arian Foster laughingly tweeted that O’Brien was “drunk,” while free agent wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who was drafted by Houston in 2017, asserted that the Texans were “DUMB A[S] [expletive].”

Ex-NFL players of all stripes proved happy to join the party, with former wide receiver Lance Moore tweeting, “Yo, Bill O’Brien needs to fire himself!!! Wow!!” Another former wide receiver, Roddy White, accused the Texans of “sabotaging young greatness,” wondering aloud, “how the hell you trade that type of production.”

White referred to oft-injured Texans wide receiver Will Fuller, who could ascend to the top role in Houston, in tweeting that “the other Wr you got can’t stay healthy for 5 games,” and he noted that the team already had “a good RB” in Carlos Hyde. That latter comment touched on a point many made, which was that the acquisition of Johnson continued an odd pattern for O’Brien, who traded for both Hyde and another veteran running back, Duke Johnson, before last season.

Duke Johnson ultimately cost O’Brien a third-round pick, a fairly high price that had many observers assuming the former Cleveland Brown would have a big role in Houston, but it was the more cheaply acquired Hyde who had a far greater role for most of the season, including in the playoffs. The arrival of David Johnson only further clouds the picture, and the overall deal was a head-scratcher in NFL circles.

Not surprisingly, several Arizona players, including quarterback Kyler Murray, reacted with delight at the news. “WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY,” Murray wrote in an all-caps blast on Twitter.

Then there was Hopkins himself, who did not seem nearly as upset by the trade as some of the Houston teammates he left behind. The four-time Pro Bowler indicated on Twitter that he was in an upbeat mood, sharing a popular clip of rapper Future saying with a broad smile, “Sensational."

Turning to his former home of seven seasons after being a first-round pick in 2013, Hopkins tweeted, “The Texan’s organization served me well, the city of Houston served me well and my teammates served me well. The city of Houston will forever be loved.

“Now,” he continued, “it’s time to bring a championship to AZ!! HOP OUT!!!”

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