AFC South Notes: Texans, Jags, Hardy, Colts

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is under Texans control for two more seasons, but he’d like to remain in Houston a lot longer than that. “I love this city. I don’t want to play anywhere else but here,” the 24-year-old said Friday, per Tania Ganguli of Hopkins didn’t go into detail, however, about the type of long-term deal he’s seeking. “I’m not looking for a certain range. I just want to be treated for what I’m worth. That’s fair to say, right?”

There’s no word on whether Hopkins and the Texans are progressing toward an extension, but general manager Rick Smith is eager to retain the 2013 first-round pick from Clemson. “He certainly is one of those guys that we’re going to keep around here for a long time hopefully,” Smith stated.

Worst-case scenario, Hopkins will only stay in Houston through 2017, as the club exercised his $7.915MM fifth-year option in April. A long-term accord would surely cost the Texans far more than that on an annual basis, though, considering Hopkins has emerged as an elite weapon despite having caught passes from a slew of mediocre quarterbacks during his first three seasons. Hopkins is coming off his best year, one in which he hauled in 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns, and became the first player to amass a 100-yard receiving game with four different QBs in the same season.

The latest on two of Houston’s division rivals:

  • The Jaguars recently worked out controversial free agent defensive end Greg Hardy and might even sign him, though a league source told Mike DiRocco of that such a move isn’t yet under consideration. However, the door isn’t completely closed on it, notes DiRocco, who opines that the Jaguars shouldn’t sign the 27-year-old because of his repellent behavior in Carolina and his issues last season in Dallas, where he was a headache both for the coaches and from a PR standpoint. From purely a football perspective, Hardy would upgrade a Jacksonville team whose top two edge rushers, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue, have zero NFL snaps between them. The Jags also finished just 20th in sacks last year (Hardy has 33 in his past 44 games), though Fowler missed the entire campaign with a torn ACL, Ngakoue was at Maryland and high-profile free agent pickup Malik Jackson was a Bronco.
  • Contary to DiRocco’s argument, there are some Jaguars who believe Hardy would fit in their locker room, tweets Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.
  • After the Colts stumbled through a tumultuous 2015 that resulted in an 8-8 finish, the expectation was that owner Jim Irsay would let go of general manager Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano. Irsay did the opposite and extended the pair’s contracts, which has earned quarterback Andrew Luck‘s endorsement. “I think Mr. Irsay showed a lot of guts keeping coach Pagano and Ryan (Grigson),” Luck told Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star“I think the easy thing is to start all over, I really do. I think that was an awesome, gutsy move. I think it surprised me, but then again, I think any decision would’ve surprised me.” One key reason the Colts went from three straight playoff berths to a .500 finish last season was the injury issues that beset Luck, who missed nine of 16 games. Luck also fared poorly in the seven games he did appear in, but that didn’t stop the Colts from awarding the 26-year-old a record-setting extension in June. In regards to the upcoming season, Irsay said of Luck, “I’ve never seen him more motivated. That fire is in his eye in a special way.”
  • Earlier Friday, the league suspended Indianapolis defensive lineman Arthur Jones four games for violating its performance-enhancing drugs policy.
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