It wasn’t until Black Friday for some NFL teams to feel remorse.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic created uncertainty about future salary cap outlook, several past off-season teams have still taken bold steps to reshape their rosters. For some, that meant ejecting marquee players to move in a different direction. Others wanted to bring in top talent, even if it meant paying a hefty premium in the form of lucrative contracts or early design choices.
With 10 regular weeks of the season already completed, we asked NFL reporters and columnists from across the US TODAY Sports:What is the most regrettable move of any off-season team?
Worst move? That’s too easy to list, especially when you see another rerun of DeAndre Hopkins jumping above three Bills defenders to get hold of that Hail Murray prayer for the absolute Play of the Year. The Texans (2-7) gave away D-Hop for what? A song, a refurbished laptop, a six-pack of Bud Light, a blank cassette tape, and a box of paper clips. OK, actually, Houstons’ since-fired dictator Bill OBrien sent in the All-Pro receiver and the best jump-ball performer in the NFL for a running attempt to get his groove back, David Johnson, and round two choice while swapping slots in the fourth round. I mean you can find running backs everywhere. Check out what the Seahawks have done this season to create a running race with a commission around Russell Wilson. So, unless you’re dealing with Dalvin Cook or Jim Brown, just don’t throw out your stud receiver because you have a warped idea of the addition-by-subtraction concept.
Kudos, Arizona. Cardinals GM Steve Keim should definitely have his photo as a wanted man in every post office in Harris County, Texas. Billy The Kid, wearing a GM hat. What a robbery. And poor Deshaun Watson. No battle against Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee (the residents of the Texas receiver room), but any franchise quarterback should be as lucky with a safety blanket like Hopkins. Ask Kyler Murray, who was so brutally honest in sharing his thoughts while in the middle of the miracle throw. Jump down there somewhere. Too bad for the Texans he’s not in Houston. O’Brien lost his job as Houston plummeted from division champion (10-6) to also-ran, and there’s no doubt that Hopkins’ exit, the most egregious in a series of baffling moves, defines his downfall. And think about it: Hopkins became partially expendable because OBrien had trouble connecting with him and thought he was bad for the culture. They should have paid the man and worked the other things through. But at least OBrien earned a place on the Cardinals Christmas gift list.
It’s almost too plain to say. But if you were under a rock, or off the net, or on a plane back from stormy Cleveland, as the Houston Texans were when DeAndre Hopkins astounded the world, you might not immediately see the spectacular andsince endlessly memedHail Mary, grab Hopkins snatched as time passed in the Cardinals 32-30 win over Buffalo on Sunday. The 42-yard catch screamed its arguments for our latest roundtable question, examining which team made the best off-season move. Viewing the catch against the backdrop of the Texans 10-7 loss to the Browns on the same afternoon, Houston looked worse than the odds of one, let alone three, Buffalo defenders vs. Hopkins. Hopkins has netted 912 yards and four touchdowns while enforcing constant defensive attention that unlock further options for quarterback Kyler Murray and teammates. Houston still has a special quarterback in Deshaun Watson, but running back David Johnson, part of Houstons, in exchange for Hopkins hasn’t contributed enough, the Texans standing next to last in the league in rushing yards and tries. Houston’s top-10 passing attack has not translated into scoring (league 25th) nor wins (Texans are 2-7). Would it have had that potential with Hopkins still in the mix? The owner who fired coach Bill OBrien after four games has a gamble.
The standard answer has to be WR DeAndre Hopkins’ Texas trade to Arizona, a move that is getting worse by the week given the way Nuk plays in the desert Hail Murray! and the, at best, modest compensation Houston received in exchange for its best player.
So assuming my colleagues think the same, Id also provides a reminder that the Packers could have drafted WR Tee Higgins instead of QB Jordan Love and how good would a Davante Adams-Higgins pairing look now? Even if you like the Love move, it wouldn’t have taken much maneuvering for Green Bay to make a slight ascent in lap two for WR Chase Claypool (instead of settling for the rarely used, one-dimensional RB AJ Dillon) and how good would an Adams-Claypool clutch look now?
The impact of DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona speaks for itself. It feels like he comes up with a game-changing game every week to help improve his team. Kyler Murray has made enormous strides in his development, but having a target like Hopkins certainly helps. I don’t know if Wed speaks of Murray as MVP candidate if the Cardinals hadn’t acquired Hopkins, who leads NFL in receiving yards (912) and ranks second in catches (72). And Arizona certainly wouldn’t have a 6-4 record without Hopkins.
Meanwhile, Bill OBrien might still have a job as the head coach and general manager of the Houston Texans had he not traded Hopkins instead of giving the recipient the long-term deal he wanted and deserved. Rather than further bolstering his team as it tried to build on its first playoff win under Deshaun Watson, OBrien instead robbed its quarterback of its most reliable weapon. Houston opened the year 0-4 and OBrien paid the price and was fired.
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