Sean Pendergast

Bill O'Brien's 2019 Swap Meet Saturday: Two Years Later, Where Are They Now?

Bill O'Brien reshaped the Texans two years ago today, and inevitably, that was the beginning of the end.
Bill O'Brien reshaped the Texans two years ago today, and inevitably, that was the beginning of the end. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The Texans enter the 2021 season thought to be among the worst, if not THE actual worst, team in the NFL this year. The roster is a smattering of try-hard veterans with very few young building blocks, and maybe four or five players who would start on half the teams in the NFL. It's not good.

Many Texan fans trace the demise of the Texans back to the falling out between Deshaun Watson and owner Cal McNair (with the added subsequent drama of Watson's legal gridlock). Some go further back to the DeAndre Hopkins trade, appropriately executed on about the same day the country shut down due to COVID.

However, the earth really began moving underneath this organization back on August 31, 2019, when Bill O'Brien, just a couple months into his reign as GM, turned into a drunken fantasy owner one Saturday afternoon, executing four trades, two of which were the object of ridicule by experts everywhere. (Amazingly, O'Brien would outdo both of the colossal flea market level giveaways that day by trading Hopkins for a second round pick and David Johnson months later.)

Let's relive the magic, the DARK and PAINFUL magic, of that fateful Saturday, a day I affectionately refer to as Bill O'Brien's Swap Meet Saturday. Here were those four trades and where all the principals are now:


TRADE NUMBER 1: THE JADEVEON CLOWNEY TRADE
TERMS: TEXANS trade OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY to the SEAHAWKS for OLB JACOB MARTIN, OLB BARKEVIOUS MINGO, and a 2020 3rd round pick (91st overall).
This was the opening salvo of that Saturday and was met with bewilderment and anger. Little did we know that (a) this trade wouldn't even be the most lopsided trade made that very day, and (b) that O'Brien's assessment of Clowney actually wound up being fairly accurate. That said, he still should have gotten more for a three time Pro Bowler.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

CLOWNEY: Clowney never did get the massive, multiyear deal he was seeking. In fact, his time in Seattle lasted one season, and since then he's been with two more teams, with lots of hope for a resurgence in 2021 playing in Cleveland opposite Myles Garrett.

MARTIN: Martin is the only player in the deal still with the team that traded for him. He's in a contract year, and likely part of the rotation for the Texans at defensive end.

MINGO: Mingo left Houston after 2019, played 2020 in Chicago, and is now not only out of football, but facing some serious criminal charges on child sex offenses.

THE 2020 3rd ROUND PICK: O'Brien traded this pick just before the 2019 trade deadline to the Raiders for CB Gareon Conley, who played eight games for the Texans in 2019. He was put on injured reserve in 2020, and is now out of football.


TRADE NUMBER 2: THE LAREMY TUNSIL TRADE
TERMS: DOLPHINS trade T LAREMY TUNSIL, WR KENNY STILLS, 2020 4th round pick (111th overall),  and 2021 6th round pick (202nd overall pick) to the TEXANS for CB JOHNSON BADEMOSI, T JULIEN DAVENPORT, 2021 1st round pick (26th overall), 2021 1st round pick (3rd overall), and 2021 2nd round pick (36th overall)
The hits continued that Saturday afternoon with O'Brien finally getting a franchise left tackle to protect Deshaun Watson, who'd been sacked 62 times the previous season, and suffered a punctured lung. Unfortunately, the cost was through the roof. If we believe certain reports, the hope was that Clowney would actually be a part of a Tunsil deal, which would have been far better than making TWO bad trades. The draft capital sent out in this deal has triggered an uber-fast rebuild in Miami. Meanwhile, the Texans... well, yeah.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

TUNSIL: Tunsil is the Texans' best player, and has made the Pro Bowl in both of his seasons in Houston. He was rated the 75th best player in football in the recently released NFL Top 100. Still, the price to acquire him was too high.

STILLS: Stills was the Texans' third receiver in 2019, and fell out of the rotation in 2020, before being released midway through the season. He is now out of football.

BADEMOSI: Bademosi was a special teams gunner, who was a throw-in in this trade. He is now out of football.

DAVENPORT: Davenport signed with the Colts this past March, and is in their training camp.

THE DRAFT EQUITY: The big story in this deal was the Dolphins' ability to turn the Texans' two first round picks into a slew of draft equity, including turning the third overall pick in the 2021 draft into multiple first round picks from the San Francisco 49ers, who used the pick on QB Trey Lance. (In a strange coincidence, the Dolphins ended up trading the Texans' 2020 first round pick to the Packers, who also used it on a quarterback, Jordan Love.)


TRADE NUMBER 3:  THE CARLOS HYDE TRADE
TERMS: CHIEFS trade RB CARLOS HYDE to the TEXANS for G MARTINAS RANKIN
This was actually a sensible deal by O'Brien, trading a player (Rankin) that the Texans were going to cut to get a running back to replace the injured Lamar Miller (torn ACL in Week 3 of the 2019 preseason). Hyde would go on to rush for 1,000 yards in 2019. The sad part about this deal was the fact that Rankin was the latest in a litany of third round draft choice busts for the Texans.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

HYDE: After rushing for 1,000 yards in 2019, Hyde turned down a two year, $10 million deal to remain a Texan, but ended up getting less than that on the open market, signing with Seattle for a year and $4 million. He is now James Robinson's backup in Jacksonville.

RANKIN: Rankin started 10 games for the Chiefs over two seasons. He was waived in June of this year. He is now out of football.


TRADE NUMBER 4: THE KEION CROSSEN TRADE
TERMS: PATRIOTS trade CB KEION CROSSEN to the TEXANS for 2020 6th round pick (204th overall)
This was a minor trade for a player who was a stellar special teamer for a couple years. What makes this trade noteworthy is that it probably had Jack Easterby's fingerprints all over it, as he probably knew Crossen from the time the two spent around each other in New England.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

CROSSEN: After two seasons of decent special teams play, Crossen was traded a few weeks ago to the Giants for a 2023 sixth round pick.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast