Texans Make Extension for Coach Bill O’Brien Official, Hiring of GM Brian Gaine

Despite a 4-12 campaign, the Texans on Saturday made it official, inking coach Bill O’Brien to a five-year extension, and also announcing the hiring of new GM Brian Gaine.

O’Brien had one year remaining on the five-year contract he signed when he took over as Texans coach before the 2014 season. There had been speculation toward the end of this season about O’Brien’s future in Houston, as the Texans finished their first losing season under him. After back-to-back AFC South titles in 2015 and 2016, the Texans finished 4-12.

“Bill O’Brien has been a tremendous leader for us these last four years and we believe in his vision for the team moving forward,” owner Bob McNair said in a statement. “Bill is a terrific teacher that the players respect. We have a lot of trust in him to build a unified, championship culture and we’re thrilled to have him as our head coach into the future.

By hiring Gaine, the Texans added a man familiar with the organization and O’Brien. In his end-of-season news conference, O’Brien said he holds Gaine “in high regard.” Gaine spent three seasons in Houston after Smith hired him in 2014, before leaving to become the Buffalo Bills’ vice president of player personnel in May 2017.

Texans Wrapping Up Deal to Name Brian Gaine New GM, Extension for Coach Bill O’Brien

It sounds like the plan is in place for the Texans to officially get things done to be able to name Brian Gaine as the teams’ new General Manager.

The Houston Chronicle says that Gaine will be official soon, and the team is also working out a new contract extension for head coach Bill O’Brien.

Gaine, who is Buffalo’s vice president of player personnel, will replace Rick Smith once his contract is worked out.

Gaine will have full control of personnel and football operations and will report to owner Bob McNair and vice chairman Cal McNair.

The Texans also are in the process of signing coach Bill O’Brien to a contract extension. He has one year left on the five-year contract he signed in 2014.

The Texans are hoping to have Gaine signed and O’Brien extended by early next week.

Will the Texans Turn it Around in 2018? One Former Player Personnel Guy Feels They Are Close

The Texans lost their last six games of the season, as injuries finally took their toll after the team lost star rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson.

One person who feels the team is going to turn it around in 2018 is that of Gil Brandt, long time player personnel guy for the Dallas Cowboys, and now NFL Media senior analyst.

Today Brandt released an article on NFL.com talking about teams that have chances to go from ‘worst to first’ in 2018, and he seems to feel the Texans are right on the doorstep of being back on top in the AFC South next season.

Here’s what he had to say about the Texans:

1) Houston Texans (AFC South, 4-12)

The Texans‘ path to redemption will be forged by star talents returning from injury on defense and offense. Adding J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus — who were both lost for the season in October — back to the fold should return the defense, which ranked first in 2016 but dropped to 20th in 2017, to dominance. In his last game before a torn ACL in practice brought a premature end to a dazzling debut campaign, quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns while running for another 67 yards — and I expect him to pick up right where he left off. Houston has a plus-receiver (to put it mildly) in DeAndre Hopkins and another strong asset in Will Fuller, while Lamar Miller is a good running back. I don’t see another obvious bully in the division, which sets the Texans up nicely on this list.

Patriots and Eagles Say ‘No’ to Texans to Front Office Interviews for Possible GM Job

The Patriots rejected Houston’s request to interview Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort for the Texans’ general manager job, and the Eagles told the Texans the same about their vice president of player personnel, Joe Douglas, a league source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Although Caserio and Ossenfort were prohibited from interviewing in-season, it doesn’t mean the matter is closed.

Under the NFL’s loosened rules for hiring executives from other teams, Caserio and Ossenfort still might be able to interview for the Texans’ GM job after the Patriots’ season ends, according to a league source.

Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst was scheduled to interview for the Texans’ opening Sunday but instead was promoted to general manager by Green Bay, a source told ESPN. Buffalo Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine is now considered the favorite for Houston’s GM job, sources told ESPN.

Dallas Cowboys vice president of personnel Will McClay has permission to speak with the Texans but has not heard from the club yet.

Report: Bills VP of Player Personnel Brian Gaine the Front Runner for Texans GM Job

Bills’ vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine will reportedly interview Tuesday for the Houston Texans’ general manager vacancy, Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News reports. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Gaine is the favorite for the position.

The Bills hired Gaine from the Texans in May. General manager Brandon Beane said at the time that he was “floating” after hiring both Gaine and assistant GM Joe Schoen.

The Bills last week granted Gaine permission to interview with the Texans after their GM, Rick Smith, announced he was taking a leave of absence to be with his wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Texans GM Rick Smith Taking a Leave of Absence from the Franchise

Texans GM Rick Smith is taking a leave of absence to help take care of his wife, Tiffany, who’s been undergoing treatment for breast cancer in Arizona for the last few weeks, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.

“I have chosen to take an extended leave of absence to focus my attention and intention on my wife’s complete recovery from her recent diagnosis of breast cancer,” Smith said in a statement. “We are faithful and trust in God’s promise of healing and wholeness.

“I am eternally grateful to the McNair family for their unwavering support during this trying time. This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field. I remain committed to our quest to bring a championship to the city of Houston, yet my family needs me now and they are my priority.”

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins Officially Out Sunday with Calf Injury

Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been ruled out of Sunday’s season finale against the Indianapolis Colts according to the team’s official website.

Hopkins suffered a calf injury in Week 16. Head coach Bill O’Brien wanted to play Week 17 to win and held out hope of having his best player, but the front office stepped in and ruled him out. This will be the first regular season game Hopkins has missed in his five-year NFL career. And he has put up stellar numbers despite the carousel at quarterback, catching 96 passes for 1378 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Texans will turn to Will Fuller and Braxton Miller as their starting wideouts against the Colts.

GM Rick Smith or Coach Bill O’Brien – Who Goes for the Texans Come Monday?

The Texans are expected to fire either head coach Bill O’Brien or general manager Rick Smith at the end of the season to shake up the team’s power structure according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

The relationship between O’Brien and Smith has long been described as “toxic” and the team’s disastrous, injury-plagued 2017 season clearly has not improved the atmosphere. That has left owner Bob McNair with little choice but to choose between them going into 2018 and at this point it is unclear which one will remain in Houston. O’Brien was rumored to be on the hot seat last offseason for the same reasons — but the situation is at a point of no return.

O’Brien is entering into the final year of his contract in 2018 and if he is fired-he has repeatedly said he will not quit-or becomes available in a complicated coaching trade, he would likely be considered the hottest coaching candidate on the market. His name has already been linked to the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants and he would also be a hot name in Detroit and Tennessee if those jobs become available, as he has ties with the GMs in both those cities through their days working in the Patriots organization.

While O’Brien’s coaching pedigree is impressive and he is extremely popular with the players, do not count out Rick Smith in this scenario. Smith is under contract through 2020 after signing an extension last season and has a close personal relationship with both the owner and his son Cal, who is the Texans Texans vice chairman and chief operating officer. Smith is in his 12th season as general manager and seventh as executive vice president of football operations.