Bill O'Brien was named general manager of the Houston Texans in title just about a month or so ago, in a statement released by team owner Cal McNair, but the truth of the matter is that O'Brien had been running things since the firing of former GM Brian Gaine back in June of 2019. That became quite evident in late August when O'Brien reshaped the roster in a massive series of moves that ended up with left tackle Laremy Tunsil in a Texans uniform and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney on the next fight to Seattle.
It's one thing to trade massive draft capital for Tunsil, who should be a good player for the Texans for a long time (assuming they're able to sign him to an extension). That deal was painful, but understandable. The Clowney trade was more emotionally charged, in part because Clowney was a popular player, and in part because the Texans got completely fleeced in the deal by the Seahawks.
That Clowney trade was a warning sign on O'Brien's GM competence (or lack thereof) that was muted by the existence of actual football over the subsequent weeks and months. There was no time to worry about "O'Brien the GM," because we were too busy worrying about "O'Brien the head coach." Now, the 2020 offseason is here, and O'Brien, months removed from the awful Clowney deal and apparently looking in the mirror saying "Hold my beer," has gone and made a soul crushing, disastrous move.
On Monday, O'Brien traded All Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in a deal that essentially nets the Texans oft-injured RB David Johnson (and his full $10 million salary) and a second round pick in the 2020 draft. The Tunsil and Clowney trades are deals where fans commiserate, cuss, discuss, and move on. The Hopkins trade is one that legitimately ruins fan bases, and has Texan fans rightfully livid and sad.
Reportedly, the triggers in this deal being made were (a) friction between the star wideout and O'Brien, and (b) Hopkins' desire for a new contract. Currently, he has three years and about $40 million left on the extension he signed a couple years ago. Evidently, O'Brien didn't want to deal with a renegotiation of a deal with three years remaining, and so he dumped the best wide receiver in the game for a joke of a trade package.
Make no mistake, the Texans are a laughingstock right now, and O'Brien may as well be showing up to work in clown shoes and a red nose. Once again, he has let his emotions and feelings toward a player dictate an outcome that makes the team worse, not better. The Texans' defense became WORSE without Jadeveon Clowney, and they are undoubtedly worse without Hopkins. God only knows who Deshaun Watson is going to throw the ball to in 2020.
Here is the net result of the Clowney and Hopkins trades:
EDITED, had years messed up on picks earlier:— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) March 16, 2020
1 yr ago, DHop & Clowney were 2 of the Texans 4 best players. They're both now gone (along w/ a ’20 4th rd pick) for:
Gareon Conley (via SEA ’20 3rd rd pick)
’20 2nd rd pick
'21 4th rd pick
That is one thousand percent MALPRACTICE, and it's fair to ask "Does O'Brien even call around to multiple teams when he does these deals? THAT'S the best deal he could get for an in-his-prime, unequivocally GREAT wide receiver?" If you're wondering whether people inside the building are noticing, well, take a look:
Texans player in text to me: “Everyone is in a state of shock. He’s such a great player but he was an even better leader. There are a lot of us who just can’t believe this.”— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) March 16, 2020
In the end, the one remaining Texans' employee whose opinion matters on things like this is the franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson. After the playoff loss to the Chiefs, a game whose momentum turned on, among other things, poor O'Brien game management decisions, Watson supported his head coach:
“No doubt. You might have doubt, but I don’t. I love that man.”— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 13, 2020
Deshaun Watson on if Bill O’Brien is the right coach to lead the Texans. pic.twitter.com/laLkcDO1LL
On Monday, following the trade, Watson's agent tweeted this:
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Hmm...— David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta) March 16, 2020
Right here is where I would normally outline what needs to happen with the assets acquired in order for the trade to be a win for the Texans, but short of David Johnson regaining his 2016 All Pro form, and DeAndre Hopkins getting pinched for running a drug ring after the trade is officially consummated, I can't see it.
Bill O'Brien's ego and unhinged temper are ruining the Houston Texans, and his complete incompetence in assessing asset value and accepting personalities that fall outside the margins of whatever his annoying "smart, tough, dependable" mantra entails should have every Texan fan asking themselves "What am I doing rooting for this team?"