Posted on August 1, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Training camp is always important for players to attend, but for the Houston Texans, it is a little more important this season. Last season the Texans had a solid defense but a lackluster offense. Had they had an offense that could actually score a few points, maybe they would have done better than just make the wildcard game.
With the addition of Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller, there is hope for the Texans offense this season—that is, as long as everyone can get on the same page. The first step in the process of making that happen is training camp. But for it to happen everyone needs to be there. When the team reported Saturday, there was one very important player missing—wide receiver Deandre Hopkins.
Hopkins took the step the team hoped he would last season and proved he was well on his way to becoming one of the best in the business with 111 catches for 1521 yards and 11 touchdowns. The numbers would have been great under normal circumstances, but when you consider what the Texans quarterback situation was last year they are more than impressive.
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They were record setting. When Hopkins caught seven of 11 passes thrown his way against the Tennessee Titans in Week 16, he became the first player in NFL history to record 100-yard receiving games from four quarterbacks in the same season.
Not only did the team not have much of a quarterback last season, but with Andre Johnson no longer in town, Hopkins was the obvious target in the passing game and the focus of just about every defense they faced.
So when the offseason rolled around the Texans did the smart thing and exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, but there was hope for more—at least from Hopkins.
Hopkins was hopeful the team would go ahead and sign him to a big money extension. According to comments he made at a youth camp, he wasn’t looking for anything crazy in his new contract. He just wanted what he was worth.
“I’m not looking for a certain range,” Hopkins said (ESPN). “I just want to be treated for what I’m worth. That’s fair to say, right?”
The Texans front office, however, wasn’t in a big hurry to extend him. Typically, they do not make a practice of extending guys with two years remaining on their contracts (but have; they did with J.J. Watt).
So when it came time to report to training camp, Hopkins didn’t have a new deal in place—and he stayed home.
Initial reports stated that he had reported but then left, but that was not true. He had been at the facility Friday, but not on Saturday when the team was actually reporting.
The team issues a predictable “we are disappointed/he knows our position” response to Hopkins’ holdout but didn’t appear too concerned about it; perhaps because they knew what card they would play next.
Report and we’ll talk about your contract—and he did.
Hopkins ended his holdout after just a single day and reported on Sunday. Was it because the team promised they would talk about his contract? Because he didn’t want to get fined $40,000 a day for missing camp?
Or could it have something to do with the $445,000 roster bonus he gets on Thursday as long as he’s on the 90-man roster, which he wouldn’t be if he holds out (ESPN)?
Is it worth half a million dollars to fight a battle you are probably going to lose? Yes, he is worth far more than he is getting paid, but that is the issue with the rookie wage scale. It protects teams from paying draft busts millions of dollars for nothing, but it screws the young guys that play to the best of their abilities.
It may be something the NFL Players Association tries to address in the next collective bargaining agreement, but much like Hopkins’ holdout, it will be a battle they can’t win.