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What Is The Texans' Strategy For DeAndre Hopkins' Contract?

Have the Texans made a huge financial mistake by waiting to extend DeAndre Hopkins? 

"Show me the money!"
"Show me the money!"
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

We recently saw the Rams overpay Tavon Austin for his "future potential" instead of basing it on his actual performance on record. That’s a big gamble, but it is an investment that the Rams felt was important to the future of their organization as they begin a new era in Los Angeles this season.

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

According to Spotrac:

Tavon Austin signed a 4 year, $42,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Rams that includes $25,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $10,500,000. In 2016, Austin will earn a base salary of $2,143,773. Austin has a cap hit of $4,057,137.

Then Antonio Brown signed a new agreement today. It wasn't a massive deal to raise the waterline in the league for receivers, as Pittsburgh just restructured his remaining two years to free up cap space and give him a bonus this year. He'll likely get a monster contract next season, which I suspect will make him the highest paid receiver in the NFL. It should, as he’s earned it!

So what is the strategy over on Kirby with respect to DeAndre Hopkins?

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Are the Texans going to sit around and watch other wide receivers get paid into the stratosphere, which raises the market value for the position across the league? The values go up every year in line with the salary cap increase in conjunction with the demand for top talent at wide receiver. So why are the Texans waiting?  Do they think the new talent they just brought in (Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, etc.) will provide leverage against the team's need at that position, making Hopkins less valuable to the organization than when he was the only serviceable receiver on the roster?

If either of those is the strategy, it is not good in my opinion. The Texans are either going to pay more in the long run as the market continues to climb, or they are going to watch Hopkins leave in free agency in a few years after being frustrated with the front office for the remainder of his time with the club. That can be a huge distraction for the rest of the team, which can obviously result in poor results on the field. I don't see Hopkins accepting a discount because there is finally better talent on the team--the perception of team leverage versus the player's interest in a new contract--especially when the market demand and value for his services should continue to increase.

This may be the one area of the "Patriots’ philosophy" that concerns me the most (e.g., everyone is fungible unless they are a Tom Brady type quarterback).  I agree with that thinking for the bulk of the roster, but there should be a small core of elite players who are worth paying the market rate to retain. DeAndre Hopkins is one of at least five players for Houston who should be paid top dollar for his services.

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If Houston doesn’t reach an agreement with Hopkins now--the Texans have a history of not negotiating contracts during the season--then Hopkins would be wise to sit tight and see what Antonio Brown's deal is next year.

In fairness to Houston’s front office, they do have a history of last-minute deals just before the commencement of the first game of the regular season:

J.J. Watt: September 2, 2014.

Brian Cushing: September 3, 2013.

Matt Schaub: September 9, 2012.

DeAndre Hopkins has been a top-performer in the league.  He has the character Bob McNair appreciates on and off the field.  He is the exact type of leader Bill O'Brien wants on the roster.  I’m still holding out hope that an agreement is in place soon to secure this rare talent for many years to come.

Do you think the Texans will get a contract done with Hopkins before this season begins?  If not, are you concerned about how that will play out going forward?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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