In his seven-plus years as the General Manager of the Cardinals, Steve Keim has pulled off some significant trades.
He pulled quarterback Carson Palmer from the Raiders for what was essentially a sixth-round pick. He stole linebacker Chandler Jones from the Patriots for a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper. He even found the perfect running back for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray by dealing a fifth-round choice for Kenyan Drake.
But Keim may never top, in any transaction, trade or otherwise, the deal he pulled off this week, one that finally became official Friday – acquiring wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round draft pick from the Houston Texans in exchange for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Both Hopkins and Johnson still have to pass a physical.
In one transaction, the Cardinals were able to fill a hole as a No. 1 wide receiver with a multi-time all-pro, while moving Johnson's large contract in its entirety knowing Drake was the running back with whom they wanted to move forward.
"To have a young quarterback, a guy you're trying to build things around and bring in a piece like (Hopkins) is huge," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Everything I have ever heard about the guy has been top notch, his work ethic, his toughness. To add him to the roster, we couldn't be more pleased."
Kingsbury said he has also texted Murray about the move.
"He's through the roof," Kingsbury said. "He's excited, and he can't wait to get back and get things rolling."
The announcement of the trade was delayed as the NFL continues to navigate a world with COVID-19. Originally, the NFL said players moving teams were in need of physicals before any transactions could be announced. Thursday, the league pivoted, saying once a contract had been agreed to and a copy of that contract had been sent to the player and agent, a deal could be announced. That applied to both free agents and traded players.
Hopkins drops into an offense that can now feature a wide receiving corps including Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Drake, who remains a free agent but who was given the transition tag and should return, would be in the backfield with Murray. And the move could open up the Cardinals to use their No. 8 pick overall in the draft for either a young offensive tackle or a defensive stud.
"I've loved DeAndre since he was at Clemson and followed him throughout his whole career," Fitzgerald said. "Obviously I've seen his career unfold in Houston, and to be able to have him as a teammate, it's going to be something special.
"But it's difficult to get too excited about anything with everything (coronavirus-related) transpiring around us. You really see how unimportant sports is."
Financially, the Cardinals benefit, simply by moving the $10-plus million of guaranteed money for Johnson, who goes to Houston as their main back. The Cardinals absorb $6 million of dead money from Johnson's deal on their cap, but even if Drake doesn't get a long-term deal and has to play on his $8.4 million tag salary, the Cardinals will still have about the same outlay on the cap as if Johnson alone would've counted had he stayed.
Hopkins has three years left on his contract at incredibly reasonable salaries, including only $12.5 million this season. He reportedly wants a raise and new contract – a topic that would likely had been known to the Cards prior to a deal.
"What we were able to do is add substantial talent and I'm really excited," team chairman and president Michael Bidwill said. "We've really weaponized this offense of Kliff Kingsbury."