Sean Pendergast

Best Case Scenarios For All Of Bill O'Brien's NFL Trades

The Laremy Tunsil trade is one of several that Bill O'Brien may wind up losing.
The Laremy Tunsil trade is one of several that Bill O'Brien may wind up losing. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If there is one thing you could say about Bill O'Brien, even before the controversial DeAndre Hopkins trade a week ago, it's that he is aggressive in doing the things he thinks is right for the Houston Texans organization. The exasperating thing, of course, is that most of these moves appear short sighted, if not reckless, and that's when aggressiveness crosses over into malpractice.

If you're looking for a good temperature gauge from the fan base on O'Brien and his moves, replies to tweets from the team Twitter account give one window into the mood, and unfortunately for the Texans, not even a tweet about the team giving $500,000 to charity, complete with a smiling picture of the ultra sweet Janice McNair, is immune to a sea of furious replies calling for O'Brien's head.
So the water is under the bridge now on all of these trades, there's no turning back. On the surface, at the time of consummation, MOST of these deals looked like losers for the Texans. So let's do a quick examination of each deal, what the outcome has been thus far, and what the best possible outcome could be for the Texans ultimately. Here we go...

The Duke Johnson trade (8/8/2019)
Texans trade conditional 2020 3rd round pick to Browns for Johnson
CURRENT STATUS: The conditions for the trade involving a third round pick instead of a fourth round pick were simple — Johnson must be active for 10 games in 2019. He played in every game, and when called upon, he made plays (4.9 yards per carry, 44 catches on 62 targets). The problem was he wasn't called upon nearly enough.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Johnson is able to maintain the same level of productivity with about double the carries and about 30 to 40 more targets. He is under contract for two more years.

The Jadeveon Clowney trade (8/31/2019)
DETAILS: Texans trade Clowney (and pay roughly half his $15 million salary for 2019) to Seahawks for LB Barkevious Mingo, LB Jacob Martin, and a 2020 3rd round pick
CURRENT STATUS: Clowney was very active in the pass rush and solid in the run defense, with very little actual sack and QB hit output. Basically, he was what he was in Houston. Mingo was a special teams fixture, Martin flashed a few times as an edge rusher, and the 3rd round pick was traded to Oakland for Gareon Conley. Mingo is a free agent.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: In some ways, the best case on the Clowney end is playing out for O'Brien, as the outside linebacker's free agency market has been tepid, at best, giving the impression, at least, that maybe the trade market for Clowney wasn't as robust as we all believed it should be. On the other end, Martin would need a double digit sack season, and Conley would need to be worthy of a good second contract next year for this deal to be perceived as anywhere close to reasonable.

The Laremy Tunsil trade (8/31/2019)
DETAILS: Texans trade a 2020 1st round pick, a 2021 1st round pick, a 2021 2nd round pick, LT Julien Davenport, and CB Johnson Bademosi to the Dolphins for LT Laremy Tunsil, WR Kenny Stills, a 2020 4th round pick, and a 2021 6th round pick
CURRENT STATUS: Tunsil made the Pro Bowl, Stills was a valuable third WR, and the Texans are making bad trades (ok, ONE bad trade) to try to recoup a fraction of the draft capital they gave up in this deal
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Tunsil signs a long term deal and becomes the Duane Brown of this decade, Stills catches 75 balls in 2020, and the Dolphins completely butcher the picks they were given by O'Brien

The Carlos Hyde trade (8/31/2019)
DETAILS: Texans trade OL Martinas Rankin to the Chiefs for RB Carlos Hyde
CURRENT STATUS: Rankin actually looked like a serviceable starting guard for the Chiefs before a season ending knee injury five games into the season. Hyde had his first ever 1000 yard season, and is now trying to find his next home in free agency.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Hyde goes onto regress into a pumpkin for the rest of his career, and Rankin never becomes a starting offensive lineman ever again.

The Keion Crossen trade (8/31/2019)
DETAILS: Texans trade 2020 6th round pick to the Patriots for CB Keion Crossen
CURRENT STATUS: Crossen played largely on special teams all season for the Texans, and did fine.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Crossen makes the team and continues to play fine on special teams. Not much to see here.

The Gareon Conley trade (10/21/2019)
DETAILS: Texans trade the 3rd round pick acquired in the Clowney trade to the Raiders for CB Gareon Conley
CURRENT STATUS: Conley became a fixture in the Texans' secondary after coming over from Oakland and gradually improved throughout the balance of the 2019 season. He is under contract for two more years.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Conley plays at a level the next two years to where, if the Texans don't extend him, he becomes worthy of a large contract from someone else in free agency.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade (3/16/2020)
DETAILS: Texans trade WR DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 4th round pick to the Cardinals for RB David Johnson, a 2020 2nd round pick, and a 2021 4th round pick
CURRENT STATUS: If there were no coronavirus, there would be heavy protesting going on in the NRG Stadium parking lot
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Johnson rushes for 1,500 yards, the Texans draft a contributor with the Cardinals 2nd round pick, and Hopkins gets arrested in the next couple months for running an elaborate underground drug ring.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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