Sport Texans put a happy face on offseason moves

01:15  04 april  2020
01:15  04 april  2020 Source:   houstonchronicle.com

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The Texans enter the offseason with 18 unrestricted free agents, including several starters. Perhaps the most important of these players is nose tackle D.J. Reader, who had the Miller was the team's featured back for three seasons before tearing knee ligaments in August and missing the season .

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Texans coach and general manager Bill O'Brien broke his silence on the team's unpopular trade of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for former All-Pro running back David Johnson.

a man standing in front of a crowd: The Texans troika (from left) of head coach/GM Bill O'Brien, executive VP of football operations Jack Easterby and chairman Cal McNair addressed season ticket holders in a town hall conference call Friday. © Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The Texans troika (from left) of head coach/GM Bill O'Brien, executive VP of football operations Jack Easterby and chairman Cal McNair addressed season ticket holders in a town hall conference call Friday.

In a town hall conference call with season ticket holders Friday that included Texans chairman and chief operating officer Cal McNair and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, O'Brien explained the reasoning behind trading one of the top receivers in the league.

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"I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team," O'Brien said. "DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player for us here. We love DeAndre Hopkins, but he had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. We weren't going to be able to go in that direction.

"We felt like we had a great offer from Arizona that involved picks. It involved an excellent three-down running back who's hungry and humble and can't wait to get started. David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team."

During the call, McNair repeatedly expressed confidence in the direction of the organization

"It's important that the focus is the team," McNair said. "I would think as a fan, I would be really excited that your leadership can make bold moves and can go make the moves that make the team better. It's an exciting time for us.

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Houston should move on from Arian Foster, and the Colts, Titans and Jags also have major moves to make. The Titans kicked their offseason off by cutting longtime starter Michael Griffin, and unless they plan to move corner Jason McCourty to safety, that leaves them with a gaping hole in the back of

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"Our team is getting better through free agency. You can't look at one move. You have to look at all of them together."

Hopkins and a fourth-round pick were traded to the Cardinals in exchange for Johnson, a second-round pick and a fourth-round selection.

The Texans traded Hopkins partially because of his displeasure with his five-year, $81 million contract that included $49 million guaranteed and communicating through his representatives that he would hold out if he didn’t get a raise, according to multiple league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

Hopkins wants a raise up to $19 million to $20 million annually, per sources, from his current $16.2 million average per year. He’s due a $12.5 million base salary this year, $13.5 million in 2021 and $13.915 million in 2022. The Cardinals plan to address Hopkins' contract situation.

There was also friction in recent years between Hopkins and O'Brien that included him frequently not practicing because of various injuries, according to league sources.

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Do the Texans stick with him, or do they make Osweiler an extremely high-paid backup to Tom Savage? Or does Houston make a big splash and try That’s the biggest question the new regime of head coach Doug Marrone and executive vice president Tom Coughlin need to answer this offseason .

"We're excited about where we're at and excited about where we're going," O'Brien said. "It's hard because there's a lot of noise out there but there's a lot of things going on in our organization that make us feel very excited about the upcoming season.

"Every decision we make will always be made in the best interest of the team. We're not trying to win March. We're trying to win January. It's April. It's not November. We're trying to set up our team depth-wise talent-wise to win in January."

Twice, O'Brien emphasized the importance of the collective as an organization: "Whatever decisions we make will be made in the best interest of the team. Capital T. Capital E. Capital A. Capital M. Every decision we make, as long as I'm the football coach here, will always be made in the best interest of the team."

McNair expressed confidence in the leadership structure he has put in place of O'Brien and Easterby and other executives and the roster.

"We think about the great quarterback Deshaun Watson that we have," McNair said.  We want to surround him with dependable, tough smart, players that care about winning and care about the team."

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A lot of things have been speculated within the past couple of weeks in days about what the Houston Texans can do via free agency let's talk about the

Added O'Brien: 'We're excited with where we are. Any organization that has achieved greatness, there has always been noise.. We've won 4 of 6 division titles. We know how to win.. We aren't talking about a 6-10 football team."

O'Brien addressed other offseason news, including losing Pro Bowl alternate defensive lineman D.J. Reader to the Bengals via a $53 million free agent contract. O'Brien said the Texans had a good dialogue with Reader's agent, but it didn't work out.

"We would've love to have kept D.J. Reader but at the end of the day we couldn't get that done," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said he's happy that the team retained multiple free agents, including corner Bradley Roby, tight end Darren Fells, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and others.

O'Brien said players have done a good job of pitching in the community, including offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Watson, J.J. Watt and Justin Reid. He said players are doing what they can to stay in shape, including center Nick Martin loading up the back of his truck with weights to take home from the Texans' gym.

Easterby said the team has pulled together and done a good job of adapting to the different circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"This entire organization has been unified during this time," Easterby said. "We unified a task force to identify things that we need to do as a team and as a staff. We've been busy to prepare our team for the 2020 season."

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