As the Texans Sit Idle, Bill O'Brien is the Only One That Can Make Things Right
The Houston Texans currently sit without a general manager after parting ways with former general manager Brian Gaine and failing to land New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. Reports have pointed to language in Caserio's contract from interviewing from other teams. That did not prevent the Patriots from declining the Texans request during the 2017 off-season and when the San Francisco 49ers came calling the same season.
Either way, the Texans have no Caserio and no general manager in place. The Texans could pay draft compensation to land Caserio, but the Patriots personnel man's contract comes to an end after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Texans look to be prepared to wait for an entire regular and draft process to hire Caserio, a key personnel man they have coveted for nearly three years.
Still, that plan does not solve the issue at hand for the Texans. At this point nothing is set in stone, there have been plenty of rumblings on precisely what is going to occur in the front office heading into the 2019 season.
A quick look at the duties of a general manager in the NFL, it has more than just adding and subtracting players. The general manager position also has to worry about the product on the field, scouting college and professional teams, and building a team with contracts. Also, it has them finding the right people to manage the team's medical and rehabilitation programs, travel and security from city to city. Many of the job duties that a general manager has to focus on are not as exciting as the game of football.
Currently, Senior VP of Football Administration Chris Olsen is the interim general manager for the Texans according to CEO Cal McNair. Olsen helped former general manager Rick Smith pull the Texans out of cap hell and build contracts in favor of the organization to pay players accordingly. Most importantly construct deals where there are early exits with minimal damage to the cap space to continue moving forward to build the roster.
Having Olsen in place remains a plus for the organization especially with his handle on the current cap space situation and projected plan for players on the roster most notably Deshaun Watson.
Olsen is the only known quantity in the Texans front office, and there will be questions on exactly how the rest shakes out moving forward.
The football operations are where the Texans are going to have to figure out where exactly things are going to fall heading into the season.
Reports have Executive Vice President of Team Development Jack Easterby helping the Texans navigate this time without a general manager. Easterby could quickly help with the non-football duties that a general manager handles from day-to-day.
As for personnel, Director of Player Personnel Matt Bazirgan joined the Texans in May of 2017 after opening 14-season with the New York Jets. Bazirgan is a Brian Gaine hire and the two spent time with the Jets. His current role saw him supervise and lead both the pro and college scouting departments for the Texans while focusing on the organization pro personnel operation. Bazirgan has a grip on the NFL side of things. Currently responsible for keeping a pulse on the league when it comes to players that could come available via waivers, free agency or possibly from a trade.
With the season coming, Bazirgan is getting into the vital stretch of where he is needed most.
The most crucial player in all of the situation is head coach Bill O'Brien and exactly where he fits into the entire situation. There is no one currently in the power structure to check O'Brien on precisely what he wants in terms of personnel or who needs to be on the 53-man roster. He will listen to others, especially his coaching staff, but at the moment O'Brien has full control over what Gaine used to run, the 53.
The optics for the Texans from the outside are bad. Many are wondering if the Texans know how to run an organization after missing out on Caserio. On the inside of the building, the thoughts may be different. The Texans felt that moving on without Gaine was a must if they replaced him or not. With the current contingency plan in place, the Texans look to be willing to head into the 2019 season without a general manager.
Bill O'Brien Needs to Swing Big
The only way to calm everyone down, if for O'Brien to show he can handle the current situation. Make a big move or two.
O'Brien could put many at ease watching from the outside. He could place a call to the Washington Redskins to build a deal around landing Missouri City native, all-pro left tackle Trent Williams. Williams just had minor surgery after mini-camp, which could push his asking price down some. O'Brien could step up to the plate to show he could find a clear solution to an issue that Gaine could not. An impact left tackle that can help now to protect Deshaun Watson.
Also, with the cap space the Texans hovering around $40 million, O'Brien can also handle the Jadeveon Clowney situation and get him an extension that works for both the player and organization. Having Clowney ready for training camp is crucial and should remain a top priority for the Texans heading into the season.
If O'Brien wants to get the attention of doubters, landing Williams and getting Clowney back into the locker room are two easy situations to handle.
The situations might not be optimal for most, but the Texans have enough people in place to handle the duties of the general manager. O'Brien has to make sure he puts together a good enough season as a head coach to make sure he is around for the 2020 off-season. O'Brien lasting to the following off-season ensures that the Texans will get another chance to land Caserio after the 2020 NFL Draft.
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