HOUSTON -- Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins reported to Houston's training camp Sunday afternoon, officially ending a brief holdout that lasted just one day of practice.
However, the return of the Pro Bowl wide receiver doesn't signal an end to the acrimony over his contract situation. Hopkins remains dissatisfied with the unresolved financial dispute.
Hours before Hopkins reported to camp, Texans general manager Rick Smith reiterated that the team won't enter into contract discussions with him and characterized the holdout as counterintuitive.
Reinstated from the reserve/did not report list and now back on the active roster, Hopkins is disappointed with the Texans' stance that they won't conduct negotiations for a contract extension as he enters his fourth NFL season.
Hopkins is scheduled to practice Monday morning and speak with reporters afterward.
Following a breakthrough season during which he accelerated past and jumped over cornerbacks for a series of acrobatic, one-handed catches and established himself as one of the top receivers in the game, Hopkins is set to be one of the lowest-compensated standout receivers in the NFL.
The former first-round draft pick from Clemson is due a non-guaranteed $1 million base salary during the regular season and a $445,004 roster bonus on the fifth day of training camp.
The Texans declined to enter into talks with Hopkins heading into his fourth NFL season after being approached by Hopkins' new agents at Creative Artists Agency. He was previously represented by Hadley Engelhard.
"There are any number of factors that go into a club's decision of when or whether or not to extend a contract," Smith said. "They came to us this summer and talked to us about that, and we contemplated and we came to a decision. We communicated that decision to him and told him that it was a firm decision.
"That's the degree to which I'll express what was communicated. That was communicated. We respect DeAndre, his abilities, his contributions to our football team and his future contributions to our football team. We wanted to entertain that because they asked, and we did. We decided that this is not the right time for a number of reasons. That's our position at this point."
Hopkins was subject to a $40,000 fine for each day of camp he missed.
"Yeah, he has been fined every day," Smith said. "That is our right via the collective bargaining agreement, and we'll exercise that right."
Paid a $1,098,000 guaranteed base salary last season, Hopkins is playing under a $15,552,000 rookie contract that included a $3,926,000 signing bonus and a total of $6,181,000 guaranteed. The Texans exercised a $7,915,000 fifth-year team option after last season to keep him under contract through the 2017 season.
The expectation now is that the Texans will work on a lucrative contract extension for Hopkins after this season.
The financial stratosphere for a wide receiver like Hopkins is an expensive neighborhood, including upper-echelon deals for the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones (five years, $71.26 million, $12 million signing bonus, $47 million guaranteed), the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant (five years, $70 million, $20 million signing bonus, $45 million guaranteed) and the Denver Broncos' Demaryius Thomas (five years, $70 million, $11 million signing bonus, $43.5 million guaranteed).
Plus, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is playing under a $70.81 million contract that included $60 million in new money in a four-year contract extension that had a $15 million signing bonus.
Before Hopkins reported, Smith left no doubt about how he feels about a player under contract withholding services.
"You've got to ask DeAndre," Smith said. "He's not here. We're here. He's under contract. I will tell you this: His actions are counterintuitive to any of the productive energy that is necessary for anything to get done.
"We're disappointed. Obviously, we want him here. I think he ought to be here, he's under contract, but he's exercising his rights to express himself in the way that he's chosen. When he gets back, we'll welcome him back. He's a heck of a football player and he can help our football team, and we know that."
The Texans have a policy of not negotiating contracts during the regular season. They also have a stance against reworking contracts that have two years remaining. They did break that rule for Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt when they signed him to a $100 million contract extension with two years left on his rookie contract.
However, that was viewed as an exception the Texans made for the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Houston signed outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus to a four-year, $27 million contract extension at the deadline last year to exercise his fifth-year option.
"I mean, he's doing what's best for him in his mind," Watt said of Hopkins during the brief holdout. "Obviously, I'm a player, so I believe that players should do what they feel is best for them. I'm a player, so I advocate for players getting paid. If I was in the front office, I'm sure my answer would be different. But I'm a player, so I know that the career is short, so if he feels that this is what he needs to do, then that's what he feels he needs to do."
Hopkins' decision to not report to camp apparently caught the team off guard.
"I didn't expect him to hold out," Smith said. "It was a bit of a surprise."
Hopkins is a major part of the Texans' offense. He caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, his first as the designated featured downfield target after years of being an understudy to former Texans Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for DeAndre Hopkins," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said while Hopkins was holding out. "I love coaching the guy. I think I speak for everybody here that he's a heck of a player, and when he comes back, he's going to be thrown right in there, and that's the way it's going to go."