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TEXANS, PATRIOTS LOSE FAN FAVORITES IN HOPKINS, BRADY

 

Last updated 3/24/2020 at Noon



KAZ’S KORNER

Just about every Houston Texans’ fan, beat writer and even the players were flabbergasted when the news that three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had been traded to the Arizona Cardinals last week.

The big question lingering was WHY??? Why did Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien make such a deal that seemed like a bad one from the get-go? Hopkins was perhaps the most consistently productive player the Texans’ franchise has ever known.

And he was very popular with his teammates, media, fans and coaches and was a great influence in the locker room.

Therein lies the problem.

The locker room.

O’Brien always heaped on praises for his talented wide receiver to the media and everywhere else—except behind Hopkins’ back where he was unhappy with the influence Hopkins had over his teammates in the dressing room.

And after the season, Hopkins announced through social media that he was unhappy with his present contract that still had three years remaining and paid him ONLY $16 million per year guaranteed and claimed he was worth $19 or $20 million annually.

This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back as far as O’Brien was concerned.

He began searching for a team that would make a trade the Texans’ could live with.

O’Brien had Hopkins in his first six seasons and watched the receiver grow into one of the NFL’s best, according to an article appearing last week in the Houston Chronicle.

The Texans’ offense will never be any better without Hopkins at wide receiver, regardless of who O’Brien picks up as his replacement.

Hopkins was quarterback Deshaun Watson’s go-to guy when the chips were down.

The key to the trade was 28-year-old running back David Johnson who may be the only experienced ball carrier left on Houston’s roster.

But his numbers declined after an exceptional sophomore season in 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals when he rushed for 1,239 yards and added 879 receiving yards for a combined 20 touchdowns.

Johnson played in only one game in 2017 after breaking his wrist the first week and last season played in 13 of the Cardinals 16 games after dealing with ankle and back problems.

Carlos Hyde, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season for Houston, rejected O’Brien’s offer on a new contract and was put on the back burner seeking another team.

The departure of 42-year-old Tom Brady from the New England Patriots was not nearly as dramatic as Hopkins’ exit from Houston.

Pats’ head coach Bill Belichick figured he got 20 great years out of Brady, who failed to lead his team to the conference championship game in 2019 for the first time in many moons, and wished him well.

Brady received a deal he couldn’t refuse and signed last week with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were ranked 30 th of the 32 NFL teams in attendance and have played only 15 playoff games in their 44-season history and none since 2007.

They went 7-9 last season and missed the playoffs for the 12 th straight year, the longest drought in the league behind the Cleveland Browns.

And with Brady now a Buccaneer, the team officially moved on from Jameis Winston, who became a free-agent Wednesday after five seasons as the team’s quarterback.

Although Winston led the NFL in passing yards last season, he also became the first player in league history to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.

Within 24 hours after Brady became a Buccaneer, the website selling season tickets for 2020 showed more than 2,400 people in a queue waiting for an opportunity to make purchases.

And that’s perhaps the main reason Tom Brady will be wearing No. 12 on a Tampa Buccaneers’ uniform for the 2020 season—that and the two-year contract that guarantees him $50 million and includes a $10 million signing bonus and $15 million salary for 2020.

As far as the Houston Texans are concerned, they are ecstatic that Brady won’t be around for New England to put the usual quietus on them when playoff time rolls around.

KWICKIES…I’m really happy to see that many major league franchises including the Houston Astros are compensating their minor leaguers while they remain idle due to the coronavirus hiatus.

And speaking of the Astros, ace pitcher Justin Verlander underwent surgery on his right groin last week and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

“He got a second opinion and surgery was recommended,” said General Manager James Click, “As I understand it, the surgery was perfectly successful.” Three former overall No. 1 draft picks—Jameis Winston, Cam Newton and Jadevon Clowney-- are still without new teams as the NFL free agency flurry cools off somewhat.

Carolina gave Newton permission to pursue a trade after the Panthers signed Terry Bridgewater last week.

And Clowney is still desperately searching for that mega- contract that both the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks refused to give him.

If Clowney still wants to remain in Seattle, he will have to settle for a more reasonable contract or sign someplace else.

The International Olympic Committee has canceled the the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021.

This is the first time the Olympics have been postponed without it being war time.

The 2020 NFL draft is still scheduled for April 23-25, but it definitely will not be held in Las Vegas as originally planned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The current plans call for some type of studio setting with cut-ins from the headquarters of the teams making the selection at a given time.

JUST BETWEEN US…I was amazed to read last weekend a news release by the University Interscholastic League’s executive director Charles Breithaupt—a native of Buna—stating that it has extended “until further notice” its suspension of all activities under its umbrella and said May 4 is the earliest games and contests can resume.

The original suspension was in place until Sunday and announced last week that practices would not be permitted during that time.

Athletes have been working out on their own instead.

What I don’t understand in Breithaupt’s press release is “We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended.

While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.” What I gather out of this notice is that UIL is going to do everything in its power to get it’s cut of the playoff money.

 

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