The Arizona Cardinals changed the trajectory of their franchise by trading away running back David Johnson in 2020. Now Johnson is sharing what the most difficult part about getting traded was.
Johnson, who was sent to the Houston Texans for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, said in an interview with Aaron Reiss of The Athletic this week that the magnitude of being traded for Hopkins made things tough on him.
“I was in such a fishbowl,” said the former All-Pro. “Everything I did was going to be magnified because of the trade. Honestly, I felt like if I was traded for anyone else, it wouldn’t be as bad. I think just the magnitude of the trade is what made it so stressful.
“I felt like I was constantly having a lot of adversity thrown at me,” Johnson continued. “I was just getting real frustrated, really mad. The biggest thing for me is I was bringing it home to my wife and kids, being stressed and carrying it over from the game or the facility to my wife. I felt like they didn’t deserve that.”
Even though Johnson was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in Arizona, the Texans were pummeled for getting such a seemingly poor return for arguably the NFL’s best receiver in Hopkins. The critics have ultimately been proven right with Hopkins helping lead the Cardinals to a perfect 6-0 record this season en route to Super Bowl hopes. Meanwhile, Johnson is stuck on a dysfunctional 1-5 Texans team while fighting for touches with Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay.
It is unfair to blame Johnson for the Texans’ shortcomings in handling the whole situation. But many inevitably will, and it must be extra difficult for Johnson seeing how much his former team is thriving without him.
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Related slideshow: The worst trades in NFL history (Provided by Yardbarker)
The worst trades in NFL history
NFL fans often wonder what could have been after their favorite teams make terrible, head-scratching trades. Here’s a look at the worst trades in the history of the NFL.
2020: Texans acquire David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins
The results of the trade have yet to play out, but Houston’s return for Hopkins looks quite iffy on paper. Bill O’Brien acquired Johnson, a second-round pick, and swapped fourth-round picks with Arizona for Hopkins and a fourth-round pick. Johnson saw only 130 touches in 2019 and last averaged 4 yards per carry in 2016, while Hopkins has clearly established himself as one of the top wide receivers in football. Given the suppressed value of running backs in today’s NFL, it’s hard to see this deal looking like anything but a disaster when it’s revisited.
2019: Raiders acquire Antonio Brown for two draft picks
Brown went to the Raiders for what was thought to be a cheap price of third- and fifth-round picks after quitting on the Steelers late in the 2018 season. The drama got even worse when Brown arrived to Oakland, however, as he missed part of training camp with frostbite on his feet after failing to wear proper footwear during cryotherapy and then refused to adopt the NFL’s new helmet requirements. The Raiders finally released Brown late in camp after he missed additional practices, had guaranteed money voided in his contract and had an altercation with GM Mike Mayock.
2018: Bears trade up for Mitchell Trubisky
The Bears dealt first-, third-, and fourth-round picks as well as a third-round selection in 2018, to San Francisco to move up just one spot in the 2017 draft for the rights to draft Trubisky. Not only has Trubisky struggled to develop in his first three NFL seasons, but the Bears also bypassed Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in favor of the UNC alum. As time goes on, the trade and draft choice look worse and worse for Chicago.
2017: Bills acquire Kelvin Benjamin for two draft picks
The still competitive Panthers shocked the football world when they traded Benjamin to the Bills for a third- and seventh-round pick at the 2017 trade deadline. As it turned out, Carolina was selling high on the former 1,000 yard receiver, as he had only 217 yards in six games with the Bills and was released after 12 games the following year.
2016: Browns acquire Jamie Collins for third-round pick
Despite making the Pro Bowl the previous year and starting six games in early 2016, the Patriots traded Collins to the lowly Browns for a third-round pick. Collins signed a contract extension with Cleveland following the year but was cut only two years into the deal. Of course, Collins returned as a top performer in 2019 for the Pats.
2013: Colts acquire Trent Richardson for first-round pick
Just one year after selecting Richardson third overall in the draft and seeing him run for 950 yards and 11 scores during his rookie season, Cleveland traded the young running back to the Colts for a first-round pick only two weeks into the 2013 season. It was a trade that shocked the league, but the Browns would end up the clear winners after Richardson struggled with the Colts over two seasons. Richardson was cut after the 2014 season and never played another down in the NFL.
2012: Redskins trade up for Robert Griffin III
Targeting Heisman Trophy winner Griffin III, the Redskins sent three first-round selections and a second-rounder to the Rams, who were set at quarterback with former first overall pick Sam Bradford. The blockbuster move was ill-fated for Washington — RG3 hurt his knee at the end of his rookie season, leading to a downward spiral for his career.
2008: Cowboys acquire Roy Williams for draft picks
The Cowboys acquired Williams, a former Texas Longhorn, from the Lions in October, 2008, for a first-, third- and sixth-round pick. The former Pro Bowl wideout wasn’t able to come close to matching his early career performance while with the Cowboys, failing to reach even 600 yards in a season, and he was released following the 2010 season.
2007: Dolphins trade Wes Welker for draft picks
A slot receiver and return man in his first three NFL seasons, Welker was traded from Miami to New England in 2007 for second- and seventh-round picks. The wideout went on to become a star with the Patriots, leading the NFL in receptions three times and making five consecutive Pro Bowls.
2007: Raiders trade Randy Moss for fourth-round pick
Moss never quite got comfortable in two expensive seasons with Oakland before the team traded the star wideout to New England for a fourth-round pick in 2007. After pairing with Tom Brady, Moss had one of the best seasons ever by a wide receiver en route to a 16-0 regular season with 1,493 yard and 23 touchdowns. He also surpassed 1,000 yards for the Patriots the following two seasons.
1999: Saints trade up for Ricky Williams
Desperate for a lead back, New Orleans traded first-, third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks in 1999, along with first- and third-round picks in 2000, to the Redskins for the second overall pick to take Williams. Williams had a productive NFL career as a running back but played only three seasons with the Saints.
1998: Chargers trade up for Ryan Leaf
San Diego sent two first-round picks, a second-round pick and two players to the Cardinals to move from No. 3 to No. 2 in the first round. Leaf, the player San Diego selected, set the organization back years. Drafted after Peyton Manning went No. 1 overall to the Colts, Leaf is considered one of the biggest draft busts of all time.
1997: Bears acquire Rick Mirer for first-round pick
Mirer looked like a huge bust four years into his NFL career with the Seahawks, going 20-31 while completing only 53 percent of his passes. Yet somehow he still fetched a first-round pick from Chicago in a trade. The quarterback started only three games for Chicago, going winless. He was released following the season.
1996: Rams trade Jerome Bettis for draft picks
Bettis made the Pro Bowl in his first two NFL seasons with the Rams but struggled during 1995 after the franchise moved to St. Louis and hired a new coaching staff. Team and player decided to move on, with the Rams trading Bettis to Pittsburgh with a third-round pick for the Steelers’ second- and fourth-round picks in 1997. St. Louis turned to draft bust Lawrence Phillips with its first-round pick in 1996 instead, while Bettis went on to produce six straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons in Pittsburgh and eventually was enshrined in Canton.
1996: Rams trade Sean Gilbert to acquire first-round pick (Lawrence Phillips)
The Rams moved defensive end Sean Gilbert to Washington for the sixth-overall pick. St. Louis brushed Phillips’ off-field issues aside to take the former Nebraska running back. He lasted just over one year with the Rams, and Phillips also spurred the team to trade future Hall of Fame back Jerome Bettis.
1995: Bengals trade up for Ki-Jana Carter
Cincinnati moved up four spots to No. 1 overall in 1995, trading the expansion Panthers the fifth-overall pick and a second-round pick, to take Penn State running back Carter. Carter, who hurt his knee in his first preseason game, had only 227 carries over four seasons for the Bengals.
1990: Colts trade up for Jeff George
In a blockbuster trade with Atlanta, Indianapolis dealt Chris Hinton, Andre Rison, a 1990 fifth-round pick and 1991 first-round pick for the first overall pick, a fourth-round pick and a conditional pick. George, selected No. 1 overall, went 14-35 in four seasons with the Colts at quarterback.
1990: Vikings acquire Herschel Walker for five players and eight draft picks
Jimmy Johnson set up the Cowboys dynasty with an unbelievable trade in 1990, moving star running back Herschel Walker and four draft picks to Minnesota for five players, three first-round picks, three second-round picks, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick. Walker played only two seasons in Minnesota, failing to rush for 1,000 yards in either campaign.
1987: Bucs trade Steve Young to San Francisco
The Bucs selected Young with the first pick in the 1984 supplemental draft, but he went 3-16 in two seasons in Tampa Bay before getting traded to the 49ers for second- and fourth-round picks. Young would have to wait his turn behind Joe Montana, but he eventually emerged as the full-time starter in 1992 and went on an incredible seven year run as arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. The Bucs replaced Young with 1987 first overall draft choice Vinny Testaverde, who went 24-48 in six seasons with the team.
1983: Colts trade John Elway to Denver
Elway was drafted first overall by the Colts in 1983 but refused to play for them. The Broncos sent Chris Hinton, Mark Herrmann and a first-round pick to Baltimore for his rights, and Elway went on to become a Hall of Fame quarterback in Denver.