DeAndre Hopkins-David Johnson trade is getting complicated

A loophole could redeem Bill O’Brien and the Texans from the most ridiculed move of the offseason.

The new league year kicked off with the blockbuster deal that sent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson and a 2021 fourth-round pick. The move, which was met with seemingly unanimous dissent from the football community, has yet to be finalized pending both Johnson and Hopkins passing their physicals.

Johnson, 28, underwent a preliminary physical on his wrist which kept him sidelined for most of the 2017 season which he passed “despite reduced range of motion that initially caused the doctor (not an NFL doctor) to hesitate,” according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

“Johnson still has to take a physical as to the rest of his body,” Florio wrote on Sunday without any mention to 27-year-old Hopkins’ evaluation.

The draft picks involved in the trade complicate the matter. Both players must pass their physicals before the 2020 NFL Draft, slated to take place between April 23 to 25, or the teams will have to agree on new terms. It remains unlikely that either player fails their physical outright, but it does give both teams a potential out, or at the very least, recourse for Texans coach and de facto general manager O’Brien to renegotiate with Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.

The head-scratching swap was widely regarded as a win for the Cardinals, but O’Brien has stuck by his decision.

“I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team,” he said on Friday during a conference call with 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. … There’s a lot of things that go into trades. Lot of thoughts that go in.”

Johnson was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft from Northern Iowa. After a fantastic second season where he tallied 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns, Johnson has been plagued with inconsistency and injuries. He finished the 2019 season splitting time with Kenyan Drake and accrued 345 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards and six total touchdowns.

Hopkins was selected 27th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft from Clemson and has crested the 1,000-yard mark in five of his seven seasons in the league in spite of the Texans’ rotating cast of downmarket quarterbacks before drafting Deshaun Watson in 2017.

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