With J.J. Watt already sidelined due to back surgery, the Houston Texans entered training camp this week without their best defensive player. On Saturday, the Texans learned they would also be without their best offensive player.
Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not report to the Texans’ camp at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Saturday. The team confirmed Hopkins is holding out as he seeks a new contract.
The Texans placed Hopkins on the Reserve/Did Not Report list, and General Manager Rick Smith released this statement:
“We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates. He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor.”
Hopkins, 24, enjoyed a highly productive season for the AFC South champion Texans last year. The 6-foot-1 wideout found the end zone 11 times, and his 111 receptions and 1,521 receiving yards ranked third-best in the NFL. He became the first player in league history to post 100-yard games catching passes from four different quarterbacks — Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden — in the same season. In his first three seasons, Hopkins accumulated 3,533 yards on 239 receptions (14.8 yards per catch) and 19 touchdowns.
Hopkins enters the fourth year of a rookie deal that would pay him $1 million in base salary this season. His current deal runs through 2017 since Houston picked up his fifth-year option in April.
For comparison’s sake, Demaryius Thomas signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Broncos heading into his sixth NFL season last summer. Thomas trailed Hopkins in receptions, yards and touchdowns during the 2015 regular season. Still, it doesn’t appear as of now that the Texans will be backing down.
Hopkins will be subject to fines of $40,000 for each day of camp he misses. He also has a $445,000 roster bonus due Wednesday, which he would miss out on if chooses not to report to camp by then.
“I’m not looking for a certain range,” Hopkins said a week ago. “I just want to be treated for what I’m worth. That’s fair to say, right?”
It stands to reason that the Texans hope to have him back in a hurry, especially with new quarterback Brock Osweiler looking to build a rapport with his new targets entering his first season in Houston.