DeAndre Hopkins has been shredding opposing secondaries for the Houston Texans since his rookie season in 2013. Now the Texans are rewarding him with a shiny new contract extension that will add five years to his deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Antonio Brown, with an average of $17 million, is the only wide receiver set to make more than Hopkins on a yearly basis.
This was a win-win: At the NFL Combine, Texans general manager Rick Smith said, “Our goal is to keep all of our good, young players and DeAndre is a good, young player.
“So, yes. We are absolutely intent on re-signing him. When that happens is up for debate, but he’s definitely in our plans. He’s an excellent young football player and I think he’s one of those guys that we just talked about that’s an arrow-up player. We certainly want to continue to build around him.”
Hopkins held out last year in hopes of an extension, but he returned to training camp after just one day empty-handed. The Texans made up for it this year with a huge contract, which should make both sides happy. Hopkins is a game-changer at receiver, and he’s never missed a game in his career.
Hopkins is the Texans’ most important offensive weapon: The one-time Pro Bowler is still in the early stages of his NFL career and already considered one of the best receivers in the league. Hopkins is known for his incredible route-running skills and the ability to corral difficult passes.
In four seasons, the 25-year-old has caught 317 passes for 4,487 yards and 23 touchdowns, all without any stability under center.
Let’s pause a minute so we can watch Nuk make a ridiculous catch: Just one of many examples of Hopkins’ skills, he snagged this one-handed pass that was out in front of him in the Texans’ 20-13 victory over the Detroit Lions last season.
He survived the Brock Osweiler era: Hopkins hauled in a respectable 78 passes for 954 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. But the Clemson product would have recorded better stats if it weren't for bad quarterback play. The Texans signed Brock Osweiler to a huge contract last offseason, and the franchise thought it found a signal caller who could bolster the passing attack.
However, Osweiler did anything but that. He kept committing back-breaking turnovers and had plenty of errant throws. Eventually, head coach Bill O’Brien saw enough miscues and benched Osweiler against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15.
Hopkins created a lot of space between himself and defensive backs last season, but Osweiler didn't see it for the most part. And if he did, the passes were either too short or too long for Hopkins to catch. Houston decided to pull the plug on him as the team’s quarterback by trading him to the Cleveland Browns.
That’s a Browns-esque list of QBs: Osweiler is not the only subpar quarterback Hopkins has been saddled with in his young career. Since 2013, he’s caught passes from Osweiler, Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, and Tom Savage.
Savage will start the season under season, even after Houston traded up in this year’s draft to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the first round. But Hopkins has developed a rapport with Savage.
"If anybody should be a judge of quarterbacks, I've played with the most quarterbacks in NFL history throughout my first four years," Hopkins told ESPN’s Dan Graziano in early August. "So I put the stamp on Savage, and I think that's all that needs to be said about that."
No one knows who will be the starting quarterback during the length of Hopkins’ new extension in Houston, but one thing is for sure: That starter will have one of the best receivers in the league to throw to.
The Texans weren’t done giving out money: Just minutes before the news broke that Hopkins would get a new deal from the team, Schefter also reported that Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz got a three-year extension that averages about $7 million per year. Safety Andre Hal and fullback Jay Prosch received extensions Thursday, as well.