The follow up to the Texans championship in the AFC South in 2015 and the big offseason moves of securing Lamar Miller at running back and Brock Osweiler at quarterback got off to a rocky start when their best and most proven offensive weapon, DeAndre Hopkins, decided to hold out and skip the start of training camp. The issue, he is a Pro Bowler and coming off a season in which he recorded 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is one of the elites at his position, yet he’s still playing on his rookie contract. And the team just handed $72 million to a quarterback that is far from a sure thing.
But after just one day away from training camp, Hopkins is back–ending what is perhaps the shortest contract holdout that doesn’t actually result in a new contract in the history of the NFL. The team’s position was clear, and made even more so when he missed his one day of camp. A new contract wasn’t coming anytime soon, but fines of $40,000 a day for missing training camp might be.
So the Texans do have Hopkins now back in camp so he and Osweiler can begin to build chemistry. Although considering that Hopkins had his monster 2015 with four different starting quarterbacks, his talent obviously shines regardless. But just because he’s back, it doesn’t mean all is well, or that Hopkins still doesn’t have a solid claim on a new contract.
The Texans have a team policy of only renegotiating rookie contracts in their final year, and Hopkins still has two years left on his. But they made an exception on their own policy when they renegotiated the contract of J.J. Watt when he had two years remaining, and Hopkins believes that he is as valuable to the offense as Watt is to the defense. And that claim becomes even stronger with Houston’s investment in a young and unproven quarterback. You can’t give $37 million in guaranteed money to a signal-caller with seven career starts, then not secure his number one target.
At just 24 years old, the performance of Hopkins has placed himself into the conversation of elite wide receivers that includes Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and A.J. Green. But with just $2.4 million in salary for the 2016 season he is making almost $11 million less than his peers. The Texans do have him back in camp and saying all of the right things in terms of his focus on a return to the postseason. But keeping him happy with a new deal would go a long way toward making that happen.