The NFL decided not to delay its free-agency period and for sports fans, the diversion from what's going on in the world couldn't have come a moment too soon.
The start of the league year got off to a bang with multiple trades and key signings. However, none was bigger than the Houston Texans trading away All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick, and 2021 fourth-rounder.
The initial response from fans was one-sided, with almost everyone feeling the Cardinals committed highway robbery. If you had a quarter for all the people who thought Houston got the better of the deal, it still wouldn't be enough to buy a cup of coffee.
Fans and analysts weren't alone in thinking the Cardinals got the better end of the trade. According to oddsmakers, Arizona was the clear winner, as the trade impacted both Super Bowl and Most Valuable Player odds.
What a difference one trade makes. The Cardinals were a long shot (80-1) to win the Super Bowl last week but saw their odds shorten to 40-1 after trading for Hopkins. While Arizona still isn't one of the favorites, keep in mind teams in the 40-1 range have been good bets in each of the last three seasons.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles were 45-1 to win the Super Bowl before the start of the season. Two years ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were 50-1 and came within a Dee Ford offsides penalty of making the big game. Last year, both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were 40-1 in August. Each team finished the season as the No. 1 seed in its respective conference, with the 49ers reaching the Super Bowl.
The trade had the exact opposite impact on the Texans. Houston was 40-1 to win the title and moved to 80-1 after losing Hopkins. While Hopkins is a great player, 80-1 is probably a bit of an overreaction. Houston will rely more on running the ball with Johnson, and having quarterback Deshaun Watson still gives the team a chance to win the AFC South and make the playoffs. Right now, the Texans have longer odds to win the Super Bowl than the New York Giants (50-1). Look for Houston's odds to settle around 60-1 as we get closer to the season, so there is some value with that number right now.
The deal also had an impact on odds to win MVP. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray saw his odds to win the award shorten from 25-1 to 12-1 with the addition of Hopkins. Murray had a sensational rookie season, throwing for 3,722 yards and rushing for 544. Now with Hopkins in the mix, Murray is tied for the third-shortest odds behind only Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
Watson had been one of the favorites at 12-1 but saw his odds lengthen to 20-1. He's thrown for close to 8,000 yards over the last two seasons but it will be difficult to replicate those numbers after losing a guy who ranks second in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns since 2015. The Texans did add Randall Cobb and still have deep threat Will Fuller, but neither receiver is in Hopkins' class. Watson is still a little overvalued at 20-1. Expect him to close around 25/30-1.