In theory, the Houston Texans' search for a general manager (and head coach) will be the result of a net widely-cast.
In reality, one high-placed NFL source tells TexansDaily.com at Sports Illustrated, that one aspect of chairman Cal McNair's efforts might be more limited that it appears.
"The problem with Jed Hughes of Korn Ferry,'' the source tells us of the executive and "headhunter'' firm involved in the process, "is that their history says that what they really do is very narrow. Hughes' big connections are Ron Wolf, Bill Polian and Charley Casserly.
"If you are friends of those three, and kiss the right ass, they endorse you.''
Obviously, part of this search to replace deposed coach/GM Bill O'Brien (and to replace controversial interim GM Jack Easterby) involves a "who-you-know'' factor. Additionally, there is nothing inherently wrong with springing from the trees of Wolf, Polian and Casserly, three of the most decorated GMs of their generation.
But the source's point may be made by our exclusive report on former Browns and Chiefs GM John Dorsey being first in line to visit with Houston; maybe that happened because he has Wolf "roots.'' And because he has ties with Hughes.
Indeed, when Dorsey got his Browns job, it was in part the result of "headhunter'' Hughes suggesting him.
And when Dorsey got his Chiefs job? Same thing.
Dave Caldwell was just fired by the Jaguars, finishing his tenure in Jacksonville with a 37–86 record. One reason he got the job in the first place? The Korn Ferry endorsement via Caldwell's 10 years spent with the Colts, we're told - the Polian connection.
Mike Maccagnan was fired as the general manager of the Jets - where his win/loss success level mirrored Caldwell's - after the 2019 season. How did Maccagnan ascend to the job? He worked in Washington and then for 15 years with the Texans under the direction of Houston's first-ever GM, Casserly - and, we're told, was pushed by Hughes.
Scot McCloughan, like Dorsey, has gotten multiple GM at-bats. He was the 49ers' GM in 2008-09 and then Washington's GM in 2015-16. McCloughan comes from the Wolf tree and, we're told, was pushed by Hughes. He is now working independently as a scout.
Oh, and one more: The search firm that recommended O'Brien to Houston? Korn Ferry.
This "who-you-know'' game takes nothing away from the legitimate credentials of Dorsey, or of any of the aforementioned group, or from any of the other people Hughes will end up recommending. However, it will be worth charting how many interviewees spring from their relationships with Wolf, Polian and Casserly.
Meanwhile, McNair's Texans have already started searching "outside the box'' with their interview with ESPN's Louis Riddick. And there is another force involved beyond Hughes' firm, as McNair has assembled "Cal's Committee'' of advisors, which includes the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Andre Johnson and Tony Dungy (though Dungy is seriously downplaying any "committee membership'' here.)
It's also worth nothing that Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (who has openly endorsed the idea of Chiefs coordinator Eric Bieniemy as the next coach) appears to have at least some say in the direction of the franchise. That's an indication that Houston truly is looking far and wide for the right leadership.
But, our source insisted, if the Texans are largely guided by Hughes and Korn Ferry? "That,'' he said, "will be too narrow.''