Rick Smith, Houston Texans
Team’s record during his tenure: 88–88, four playoff berths, four division titles
Key move(s) this off-season: Traded away Brock Osweiler, drafted Deshaun Watson
Outlook: As it so often does, this all boils down to the quarterback position. Under Smith’s watch, Houston has won the AFC South with Matt Schaub, Brian Hoyer and a Brock Osweiler/Tom Savage combo under center. At least the Texans’ past two division titles (2015 and ’16) have come largely in spite of their QB play. Smith’s free-agent signing of Osweiler was a colossal bust, so much so that Houston had to give Cleveland a 2018 second-rounder to take Osweiler off its hands.
Smith then used his 2018 first-rounder to move up this year (again via trade with Cleveland) for Deshaun Watson. So, in essence, that’s two drafts tied up in remedying the quarterback situation. Smith may not be under quite as much heat as coach Bill O’Brien, but at some point soon one of these moves has to click. Otherwise, with a .500 record since taking over as GM in ’06 and three straight 9–7 marks, Smith risks looking like he’s treading water.