The Kansas City Chiefs completed a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins, sending wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the AFC East club for 2022 first-, second-, fourth- and fourth-round picks and 2023 fourth- and sixth-round picks.
It makes sense. Hill is a six-time Pro Bowl player and has 1,000-yard receiving seasons in four of his six NFL seasons. The speedy 5-10, 185-pound wide receiver is a Super Bowl champion and a key factor in beating opposing defenses.
All that stands out from the Hill trade is how awful Bill O’Brien was as general manager of the Houston Texans.
In the 2020 offseason, the Texans traded three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2020 second-round pick, a 2021 fourth-round pick and a former All-Pro runner. David Johnson.
Hopkins had comparable production to Hill in that he produced five 1,000-plus receiving yard seasons in his first seven seasons with Houston. The former 2013 first-round pick didn’t have as many accolades with four Pro Bowl selections, but he had as many first-team All-Pros as Hill.
Hopkins’ poor performance in the trade may have been the thing that set the Texans back the most; It may be the biggest mess current GM Nick Caserio has ever had to clean up.
It’s one thing to give up two first-round picks and one second-round pick for a left tackle, as happened at the end of the 2019 preseason when Houston acquired Laremy Tunsil.
It’s another to not even match the lost compensation when it comes to a proven multi-team All-Pro and wide receiver who was on the rise even before Deshaun Watson arrived.
Had the Texans been able to get a first-round pick as part of their compensation package for Hopkins, it could have filled the hole the franchise was in because of the Tunsil trade. Somehow, he caused the abyss to expand.
According to O’Brien on April 16, 2020, the Texans had to find a business partner willing to give Hopkins the salary raise he wanted.
“Every time you do a trade, each trade is unique unto itself,” O’Brien said. “So when you trade a player like DeAndre Hopkins who has three years left on his contract and try to find a business partner, you’re not talking to 31 other teams. I’m not going to go into all the details of this, but he’s finding a business partner, number 1, who will be able to pay DeAndre Hopkins. That was a big part of it. Once we found the team that could afford DeAndre Hopkins in the future, we started negotiating what the value of the trade was.”
Compare that to Caserio, who was willing to hang on to Watson for a year and remained committed to the baseline of three first-round picks. O’Brien quickly relented and cost the Texans.
Part of the blame for O’Brien’s poor decisions as GM rests with chairman and CEO Cal McNair, who should have kept O’Brien confined in his coaching role and not expand into a front office role. McNair appears to have learned that lesson, which is why the Texans have committed to Caserio and his vision.