In hindsight, here’s how Bill O’Brien should have handled the DeAndre Hopkins trade

Houston Texans

It’s obvious that Bill O’Brien botched the DeAndre Hopkins trade, but here’s how the Texans head coach/general manager should have approached the situation.

On the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period, reports of a huge trade surfaced. The Houston Texans agree to send wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick. Bill O’Brien the general manager struck again.

It was easy to criticize the move, trading one of the league’s best wide receivers for a running back who appears to be in decline and has a bloated contract. The trade is so bad that the Madden video game won’t allow it.

Hopkins has three years left on his contract, at bargain rates based on what he has produced. But he is apparently seeking a raise, and that played a big role in the decision to trade him.

On Thursday, the Texans reached an agreement to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams. They are also getting a 2022 fourth-round pick, while giving up a second-round pick this year (No. 57 overall).

Here’s a look at the contracts for Cook and Hopkins.

It’s worth noting the Texans aren’t really committed to Cooks beyond this year, with no dead money to absorb if they want to move on. The Rams wish they could say the same after trading him.

The Hopkins trade looked even worse immediately, when the Minnesota Vikings got a first-round pick this year among the four picks they got from the Buffalo Bills for Stefon Diggs.

There have been reports of friction between Hopkins and O’Brien, which along with Hopkins’ desire for a raise seems to have spurred the trade. But shy of Hopkins becoming a serious distraction right away, with very little leverage based on having three years remaining on his contract, there was no reason for such urgency to trade him. Giving him away for below market value makes it even worse.

If O’Brien could have left any personal conflict aside, he could have at least waited until into the season to trade Hopkins. Any offers may have been better as the trade deadline approached, and getting a first-round pick for him would surely have been possible.

But O’Brien made the deal when he did, then signed Randall Cobb to a three-year, $27 million deal ($18.75 million guaranteed) and traded for Cooks. Replacing a star with volume is a slippery slope, but at least O’Brien didn’t make it worse by given up the better of the two second-round picks he came to have this year for Cooks. Via the Hopkins trade, Houston has the 40th overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Next: NFL Rumors: 5 teams who could trade for Curtis Samuel

O’Brien’s moves as the Texans’ general manager, with or without the official title, reflects the tug-of-war that comes with also being the head coach. Above all else, the patience that would have been a virtue regarding Hopkins was nowhere to be found and pushed O’Brien into the short-sighted mode of a head coach.

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