It’s not like anyone was withholding judgment on the Arizona Cardinals’ trade for DeAndre Hopkins. There was nothing to judge.
When Hopkins was available to the Cardinals from then-Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien for practically nothing, and the Cardinals somehow got to dump running back David Johnson’s bad contract in the process, it was not even a decision. It was one of the rare NFL moves that took no thought, the Cardinals just had to say yes and reap the rewards. It was practically an unprecedented trade because everyone knew who won the moment it happened.
The trade has been everything the Cardinals hoped, and maybe more.
Arizona, with its phenomenal No. 1 receiver, will play the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, a game that can be livestreamed on the Yahoo Sports app. Expect to hear O’Brien’s name and one of the most famous trades in NFL history to get mentioned a few times.
DeAndre Hopkins has been great for Arizona
There are a few iconic trades in NFL history: Herschel Walker to the Vikings for a boatload of draft picks to the Cowboys, Randy Moss from Oakland to New England, an unknown Brett Favre to the Packers after a disastrous rookie season in Atlanta, Marshall Faulk to the Rams in a deal that ended up with the Colts drafting Edgerrin James, John Elway forcing Baltimore to trade him to Denver and Eli Manning doing the same to get San Diego to send him to the Giants.
The Hopkins trade went on the list immediately. You won’t find another trade, through all of sports, that was criticized as immediately and harshly as that one. Houston sent Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona for Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020 and a fourth-round pick in 2021. There was a lot of fallout. It was reported that Hopkins and O’Brien had no relationship, and one reason Hopkins was traded was O’Brien was mad that Hopkins — arguably the best receiver in the NFL — wanted a reasonable raise. The Texans started slow this season and O’Brien got fired, and it seems obvious that part of the reason was the uproar over the infamous and awful trade.
Hopkins has reached 100 yards in seven of Arizona’s 14 games. He has 103 catches and leads the NFL with 1,324 yards. He had perhaps the greatest Hail Mary catch ever over three Buffalo Bills receivers to win a game. Arizona’s offense would be lost without Hopkins, their only reliable receiver now that Larry Fitzgerald’s play has trailed off.
Hopkins would be a fine pick for All-Pro. That isn’t a surprise. He was All-Pro his last three Texans seasons. O’Brien traded him anyway.
Cardinals still in position to make playoffs
The Cardinals will be in the playoffs if they win out, thanks in large part to Hopkins.
Kyler Murray went through a little bit of a slump but looked good last week in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense lost a big piece when Chandler Jones suffered a season-ending injury, but that group has played fairly well recently. Arizona is 8-6.
Saturday’s game is a big one for the Cardinals. If they lose, they will be in danger of losing the final wild-card to the 7-7 Chicago Bears. The Bears have clinched the tiebreaker over Arizona based on either conference record or record versus common opponents, according to the Bears’ team site. The only way Arizona can guarantee a playoff spot is by winning their final two games.
The Cardinals can at least be sure of one thing heading into Saturday’s game: They’ll have the best player on the field. They can thank O’Brien for that.
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