"It was in the best interest of our team," he said, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team."
O'Brien, who operates as the Texans' general manager and head coach, opened the new league year with a bang, dealing his All-Pro wide receiver and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals. In return, Houston received Johnson, a former 1,000-yard running back, along with a second-round selection and a 2021 fourth-rounder.
O'Brien drew widespread criticism for the deal. Hopkins, 27, surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons and in five times in seven years with the Texans. Once the news leaked, reports of a tense relationship between O'Brien and Hopkins surfaced.
Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin claimed that O'Brien compared Hopkins to Aaron Hernandez in a pre-trade meeting, citing the receiver himself. Irvin also said, again citing the player, that O'Brien took issue with the number of women Hopkins had around the team.
"Any decision that's made is made with the team in mind - capital T, capital E, capital A, capital M - in mind," O'Brien said Friday.