DeAndre Hopkins did not report to training camp this morning, on the heels of what appears to be a contract dispute with the Texans. The star wideout, entering his fourth season in Houston, is still bound to his rookie contract, leaving him grossly underpaid compared to his fellow top-tier receivers.
In 2015, several of the NFL's best WRs signed massive contracts. A.J. Green signed a four-year, $60 million deal that made him the highest paid receiver in the league at $15 million per year. Julio Jones signed a five-year, $71 million contract, Dez Bryant agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal, T.Y. Hilton got a five-year, $65 million contract, and so on. Even Doug Baldwin just got a four-year, $46 million extension. By comparison, Hopkins will make a $1 million base salary in 2016, or around $2.5 million, including bonuses. He will forfeit his $445,005 roster bonus if he doesn't report by the fifth day of training camp.
Hopkins' value should rest in the same range as the other top receivers in the NFL. Despite the Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett/Brandon Weeden/T.J. Yates carousel that Houston hosted last season, Hopkins finished third in the league with 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones topped him, and that's good company to keep. Hopkins has been a bright spot on a lackluster Houston offense, and the Texans can't afford to lose him. It doesn't matter how much faith you have in Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong, Lamar Miller, or anyone else. Hopkins is the key to championship-level play in this offense.
Houston extended Hopkins' rookie contract this year, and he is locked up through 2017. If the holdout continues, and Houston opts to sign Hopkins earlier than planned, he should be looking to make what his competition is averaging, presumably in the $15 million per year range.
Hopkins has voiced his love for Houston in recent weeks, saying, "I don't want to play anywhere else but here." Nuk, we don't want you to go anywhere either. Hopefully Houston wises up and throws a pile of money at this kid. He deserves every penny.
UPDATE: Here's what management has to say about their start wide receiver holding out:
#Texans officially placed DeAndre Hopkins on the Reserve/did not report list.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 30, 2016