HOUSTON — In his first public comments since trading DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien cited the wide receiver’s desire for “a raise” as one of the reasons for his trade to the Arizona Cardinals.
Last month, Houston traded Hopkins, a reigning three-time All-Pro selection, and a 2020 fourth-round pick for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round selection.
“I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team,” O’Brien said Friday on a conference call for Texans season-ticket holders. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player here. He made so many plays for us. We love DeAndre Hopkins. But he had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. And we weren’t going to be able to go in that direction. We felt like we had a great offer from Arizona that involved picks. That involved an excellent three-down running back who is hungry and humble and just can’t wait to get started. David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team.
“There’s a lot of things that go into trades. Lot of thoughts that go in. How much are you going to take on contractually? How much does it take to buy that second-round pick, that No. 40 pick? What type of player are you bringing in? What type of player are you losing and what is in the best interest of the team?”
Texans CEO Cal McNair and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby also spoke on the call, both praising the moves made by the team during the NFL’s free-agency period.
In addition to trading Hopkins, the Texans brought back cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves III, kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn and tight end Darren Fells, and signed wide receiver Randall Cobb and safety Eric Murray, both of whom were free agents.
“Our team’s getting better through free agency,” McNair said. “You can’t look at any one move, but you’ve got to put them all together and you really need to look at things over the last 18 months or so to see how the team has changed and how we’ll continue to change.
“It’s important that the focus is the team. And I would think, as a fan, I would be really excited that your leadership of the team can make bold moves and go out and do these things to make the team better.”
O’Brien said multiple times that every decision made by the trio “is made with the team in mind.”
“Capital T capital E capital A capital M,” O’Brien said. “Everything that we do is made with the team in mind. We don’t think about one player. … We think about the future.”
O’Brien said he and Easterby “have been empowered to do certain things, but to make sure that we communicate on a daily basis with Cal” and other members of the organization. O’Brien also pointed out the team’s recent divisional success, having won four of the past five AFC South championships, although that has led to only two playoff victories.
“We’re excited about where we’re at, and we’re excited about where we’re headed,” O’Brien said. “And I know it’s hard right now because there’s a lot of noise out there, but there are a lot of things that are going on in our organization that make us feel very excited about the upcoming season.”