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Bill O’Brien Speaks: “Let It All Play Out”

The head ball coach comes out to face the music.

NFL Combine - Day 1 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

After being nearly silent all offseason, head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien hosted a press conference Thursday morning and addressed the Houston Texans’ offseason so far. He touched on a variety of topics such as the draft, the DeAndre Hopkins trade, and took questions from the media.

O’Brien made an opening statement before opening the floor for questions. In this statement, he prefaces some moves that were made.

“I would say I’m really excited about our current team. We’ve added players upon players. In no specific order, we were able to sign back some really key free agents that we had on our own team, like Darren Fells and Ka’imi Fairbairn and Dylan Cole and AJ McCarron and more – Phillip Gaines, role players, Vernon Hargreaves (III), Bradley Roby.”

D.J Reader got an honorable mention from O’Brien.

“Yes, we did lose D.J. Reader. We tried very hard to keep D.J. Reader. D.J. Reader is an excellent player and an even better person, and we wish him the best in Cincinnati, but it’s hard to keep everybody.”

Then BOB tries to get ahead of the inevitable Hopkins trade questions.

“I know a lot of people are going to ask me about, probably, the transaction that made the most news, DeAndre Hopkins. First and foremost, I will tell you that DeAndre Hopkins was a great player in Houston. He made a ton of plays for us and just did a great job. Obviously, the production is there, and everybody knows what that production is. I’d say with three years left on his contract, his representatives, himself, myself and our team of people, we spoke and we felt like relative to what I said earlier – salary cap, future, our team, being able to provide our team with more and more role players, layers of players – it was in the best interest of our team to move DeAndre to Arizona.”

From there the questions began, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle had a follow-up.

McClain: How is your team and your offense better without WR DeAndre Hopkins and how are you going to replace him?

BOB: “I don’t think you replace Hopkins. I think that every year is different. I think that this year’s offense will be totally different than last year’s offense or the year before’s offense. I think that Timmy Kelly and myself are doing a lot of Zoom meetings with our offensive staff. We’re thinking about who we have on our team right now. We feel really good about where we are offensively right now with our personnel and what we’re going to be able to do.”

Bill was asked about team needs in the 2020 NFL Draft. His answer is telling.

“You’re going to draft based on who is the best player for your team when you’re picking at that pick. Again, if there’s a bunch of players there that you think can fit your team, maybe you think about doing some other things within the draft. But I would say defensive line – we’re looking at all the positions. Safety is another position I think we can add to. We’ve added Eric Murray, we’ve added Jaylen Watkins but we can continue to add depth there. I’d say there’s not one specific need but there’s several.”

McClain later came back for Bill O’Brien’s head.

McClain: “Why was it necessary to bring up Aaron Hernandez in a conversation with DeAndre Hopkins?

BOB: “I have no comment on that.”

Man, that felt great to hear. There was also a video feed uploaded later and O’Brien’s reaction to McClain’s question was interesting. You can check it out here.

Everyone’s favorite CHAD, Kahale Warring, was brought up by Aaron Reiss of The Athletic.

Reiss: “What do you think TE Kahale Warring got out of his rookie year and is it still reasonable to expect him to produce for your team this year?”

BOB: “I do. Look, I don’t think it was ideal for him to not play football last year. He was injured in the Green Bay scrimmage. We felt like, as time wore on, it was best for us to work with him in the classroom and do some things that we were able to do out on the field relative – observe a lot. I know he’s working really hard right now. He’s in between Houston and the West Coast and I’m excited about Kahale’s future. I really like Kahale. I think he’s a hardworking guy and I think he’s got a lot of talent, and I think he’s going to be a good really good player for us.”

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle asked about Will Fuller V’s recovery and Laremy Tunsil’s contract negotiations. It seems that there might be some progress on a new deal for Tunsil.

Wilson: How is WR Will Fuller V doing based on the level you’re able to communicate with him right now and how are contract negotiations going with T Laremy Tunsil?

BOB: “I would say with Will Fuller, before we left the stadium and those guys were in the stadium a lot, Will Fuller is doing great. Then, since we’ve left I’ve been in touch with him a couple times. He’s working out, he looks good. We’re excited about Will. We’re excited about the 2020 Will. We feel like he’s really working, and like I’ve said a lot, when he’s played for us he’s made huge plays and I think he’s looking to have a really good 2020. The second question was about Laremy. Laremy and I have been in touch quite a bit. Laremy is a great guy, a great part of our team. We’ve been in a lot of contact. I don’t want to get into the details of that but we’re working hard to try to get a deal done.”

Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle had an absolutely phenomenal question that was shortened in the transcript. In the video, it starts at the 42:40 mark. She essentially pushed BOB to dig into the return he got from the Hopkins trade and how that return was evaluated. Here’s O’Brien’s response.

“Any time you make a trade, each trade is unique unto itself. So, when you’re trading a player like DeAndre Hopkins who has three years left on his deal and you’re trying to find a trade partner, you’re not talking to 31 other teams. I’m not going to get into all the details of this, but you’re finding a trade partner, No. 1, that’s going to be able to pay DeAndre Hopkins. That was a big part of it. Once we found that team that could afford DeAndre Hopkins in the future, now we then began to negotiate what the value of the trade was. We feel very, very good about being able to get the 40th pick, being able to get David Johnson. We feel really good about, when we looked at the analytics of it based on the production that was leaving our team and the production that we were bringing in and then what we were able to do – again, it’s very incomplete and we have several roster moves left to go, including a draft and all the other things I mentioned earlier. We feel very good about the value that we got for the trade and I think the best thing I can tell the fans is to please – I know the media’s job is to evaluate right away. I get that. I have a lot of respect for the media, I’ve always said that. But I think we have to let it all play out. Let it play out. Let the whole thing play out, whether it’s that trade or anything else that we’ve done. I would say let’s review it a year from now, two years from now, three years from now. Let’s let it all play out.”

Sarah Barshop of ESPN also pressed on why DeAndre Hopkins didn’t deserve a raise like other players have received. Remember, J.J. Watt is 31 years old, s in the last year of his contract, and has missed half of the games played over the last four seasons.

Barshop: WR DeAndre Hopkins was not the first player to ever ask for a raise. What was different about the situation with him that you felt compelled to trade him?

BOB: “I would say, again, going back to what I talked about originally relative to contracts, injuries, the salary cap as a part of the game as we know it right now relative to the future of our team, next year, two years, three years down the road. It was going to be very, very difficult to have an elite quarterback, an elite defensive end, an elite left tackle and other players and be able to do that. So, we felt like, again, after research and layers of research, that the best decision for our team was to move him to Arizona. That’s what we decided to do. Again, each deal that comes up like that, like you said, is very unique. He’s not the first player to ask for a raise and he won’t be the last, and that’s not anything that has to do with why we moved him. We moved him because we felt like that was the best deal for our team relative to this year, next year, two years, three years down the road.”

All in all, it was a solid press conference. The media wasn’t afraid to dig into Bill O’Brien and ask the hard questions. Many of his answers were telling to how he is going to approach the 2020 NFL Draft and the season going forward. There is more in the transcript and video, such as concerns about operating the draft virtually, how BOB has contacted prospects, and how the organization is communicating with players in these strange times.

How did you feel about the conference? What questions would you ask if you had the opportunity?