Brian Gaine

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

How Will The Eagles Replace Joe Douglas?

Teams obviously hate to lose talented front office executives, and when it happens, the losing club will invariably wish the departing exec all the best and will lament how difficult it will be to replace him.

But for the Eagles, who lost Howie Roseman‘s second-in-command when Joe Douglas agreed to accept the Jets’ GM job several days ago, replacing Douglas really will be a tall order. Douglas was instrumental in some of the major roster decisions that turned Philadelphia into a Super Bowl champion at the end of the 2017 season, and his fingerprints are all over the 2019 club, which is again expected to compete for a title.

Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com examines three potential candidates to fill the void that Douglas left: vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl, and recently-deposed Texans GM Brian Gaine.

Berry is perhaps the most logical choice, as he was hired by the Eagles just a few months ago as a potential replacement for Douglas when Douglas ultimately moved on. Philadelphia may not have thought that it would need to fill Douglas’ role so soon, but it seemed the club knew that Douglas would get a GM gig sooner rather than later. Berry spent three years with the Browns as their vice president of player personnel, and while his background isn’t in college scouting, he is still widely respected in league circles and is seen as a future GM himself.

Weidl came to the Eagles along with Douglas in 2016, and he has a scouting background to rival Douglas’. Weidl may join Douglas’ new staff in New York, but that is still a fluid situation.

Gaine, meanwhile, was shockingly fired by the Texans just one year into his tenure as GM, and no one has been able to figure out exactly why. His inclusion on Rosenblatt’s list is perhaps more speculation than anything else, but Gaine has not — on the surface — done anything to damage his reputation as a talented executive, and he will surely get a prominent role somewhere. He may find Philadelphia’s strong front office as an attractive place to land on his feet.

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Fallout From Texans’ Brian Gaine Firing

While Brian Gaine had little chance to showcase his roster-building vision through the draft, the since-fired Texans GM was in charge of significant extension talks. A lack of development on the Jadeveon Clowney front may have factored into his firing. The 17-month GM made “zero” progress on a Clowney extension, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets. Gaine also called the Chiefs about a Clowney deal before the draft, per Robinson, and continued calling teams after Clark was traded to Kansas City. Clowney has been extension-eligible since the start of 2017. After word of prospective 2018 talks emerged, not much transpired on that front last year. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick is attached to a $17.1MM franchise tag. Houston’s next GM will have to deal with this situation, along with likely another J.J. Watt contract. The five-time All-Pro’s $16.7MM-AAV deal now looks remarkably team-friendly, given where the market has ventured.

Here is the latest out of Houston:

  • While this firing stunned the NFL-following world, it surprised many key Texans staffers as well. Some personnel people did not know this was on tap until moments before the organization released its statement, Robinson tweets. The Texans wrapped up their OTAs this week but still have their minicamp next week. That will almost certainly be conducted without a general manager. Of the GMs hired in advance of the 2018 season, Gaine was the only one whose team made the playoffs. Both Brian Gutekunst and Dave Gettleman oversaw sub-.500 seasons.
  • Despite joining the Texans this offseason, Jack Easterby looks set to have influence on who the team’s next GM will be. The recently appointed executive vice president of team development (a position the Texans recently created) has become a key figure in Houston’s front office, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Hired after a six-year run as the Patriots’ character coach, Easterby has become a close confidant of Bill O’Brien‘s, per Breer. This seems pivotal considering O’Brien will now be coaching alongside a third GM. Easterby is also close friends with Patriots VP of player personnel Nick Caserio, per the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain. Caserio is back on the Texans’ radar.
  • Another potential name to watch: Scott Pioli. The longtime Falcons exec and former Chiefs GM recently stepped down from his Atlanta post, but an NFL personnel man floated him as a prospective candidate to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Pioli, of course, ascended as a Patriots front office bastion. His and O’Brien’s New England stays overlapped by two years, from 2007-08.

Texans Fire GM Brian Gaine

The Texans GM job is again vacant. The team announced Friday Brian Gaine will no longer serve in that capacity. Gaine began running Houston’s front office in January 2018.

Gaine signed a five-year contract with the Texans, so to see them move on at this juncture — and after the 2018 team compiled the second-most wins in franchise history — is stunning. Senior VP of football administration Chris Olsen will take over in the interim. The Texans went 11-5 and won the AFC South in 2018. They will now join the Jets in conducting a mid-offseason GM search, potentially set to meet with some of the same candidates.

Despite the short duration of Gaine’s tenure, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets no one incident is believed to have prompted this.

Prior to Gaine’s hiring, the Texans dealt with frequent friction in their front office. Reports of Rick Smith, who stepped away after the 2017 season to tend to his ailing wife, and Bill O’Brien butting heads emerged often. O’Brien signed a five-year deal when Gaine was hired and was believed to have a close relationship with him. O’Brien served on the search committee that produced the Gaine hire.

Prior to a 2017 stay in Buffalo as Bills player personnel director, Gaine spent three years with the Texans. Smith promoted from director of pro personnel to director of player personnel in 2015, but he left to take a job under Brandon Beane. Considering Smith received 12 years Texans GM — his first five seasons ending shy of the playoffs — this decision figures to have considerable fallout.

Gaine only oversaw two drafts as Houston’s top front office bastion, and thanks to Texans trades in 2017, the first did not involve first- or second-round picks. This year, Gaine used the Texans’ first-rounder on small-school tackle prospect Tytus Howard. This came after Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times in 2018 — the most any quarterback has been dropped in a season since Jon Kitna in 2006.

Last year, the Texans sought interviews with seven candidates but ended up meeting with just two — Gaine and assistant GM Jimmy Raye III. Among those on Houston’s 2018 list: Joe Douglas, who is currently the favorite to become the next Jets GM. The Eagles denied the Texans permission to speak with Douglas last year, and the Patriots exercised the same action regarding execs Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort.

Before Smith vacated this post last year, the Texans had not had a GM vacancy since the Charley Casserly-to-Smith changeover in 2006.

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Texans GM On Jadeveon Clowney Negotiations: “It’s A Process”

Recent reports indicated that the Texans and Jadeveon Clowney haven’t made any progress on a long-term deal. However, general manager Brian Gaine said the two sides are still working on completing negotiations before the July 15th deadline.

“That’s the spirit of the franchise tag,” Gaine told Deepi Sidhu of HoustonTexans.com. “You know, there’s a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that. That’s a negotiation, it’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That’s still the plan.”

The Texans franchised Clowney last month, and the pass-rusher subsequently decided to skip out on the team’s offseason program. When those reports surfaced, we also heard that “no deal is in sight or expected anytime soon.” Clowney is set to make $15.44MM on the franchise tag in 2019. The two sides have until July 15th to negotiate an extension, per league rules. If the two sides don’t agree on a new deal, Clowney would have to play next season under the tag (or he could follow the Le’Veon Bell route and sit out the entire campaign).

Considering Clowney’s recent production, the 26-year-old should expect a lucrative contract. The former first-overall pick compiled nine sacks in 15 games last season, and he ultimately graded out as Pro Football Focus’ tenth-best edge defender. Some pundits believe that the deal Demarcus Lawrence just got from the Cowboys is a good sign for Clowney, and others believe that Frank Clark‘s standoff with the Seahawks could also provide some clarity.

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South Rumors: Jaguars, Hooker, Texans

The Jaguars would have an interesting setup for Lamar Jackson, employing a recently extended starting quarterback but a long-scrutinized player whose long-term future with the team remains in doubt. Tom Coughlin said Friday the Louisville prospect was an “outstanding young man” and an “extremely talented athlete.” But Dave Caldwell said the team that pulls the trigger on Jackson would have to be ready to adjust its offense to accommodate the dual-threat talent.

He’s a rare athlete,” Caldwell said, via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union. “As a quarterback, he’s a good player. He won a lot of games at that position. [Drafting him] depends what your scheme is, what you want to do and how you want to play and how he fits. I can’t say he’s the prototypical pocket passer, but you can win games with a guy like him.”

Jacksonville holds the draft’s No. 29 overall pick and has not conducted a workout with Jackson, who may now be a full-fledged top-20 prospect.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Caldwell did not give an indication on which way he was leaning with regards to picking up Dante Fowler‘s fifth-year option. The Jacksonville GM said the team had not made a decision. Earlier today, Fowler’s price became clear. It will cost the Jaguars a massive sum ($14.2MM) to keep Fowler on their books for 2019 on his rookie contract.
  • On the subject of AFC South pass rushers, Brian Gaine is optimistic the Texans will extend Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports no deal is particularly close at this point. Clowney, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack figure to see the others members of this trio’s deals affect theirs, and Von Miller may become the fourth-highest-paid defender by the time this offseason is over.
  • Gaine does not plan to deviate from Rick Smith‘s philosophy of setting the offseason as the window for extension agreements. John McClane of the Houston Chronicle notes the first-year Houston GM wants to finalize re-ups before the regular season. Clowney and Benardrick McKinney‘s proceedings will put this approach to the test this year.
  • Malik Hooker joined his Colts teammates for the start of their offseason program earlier this month but said (via Matt Taylor of Colts.com) he’s “not 100 percent by any means” as he recovers from a severe knee injury. Colts.com’s Andrew Walker writes training camp isn’t a certainty for the 2017 first-rounder, who went down in late October of last year with a torn ACL and MCL.
  • Former Broncos and Bears linebacker Lamin Barrow was driving the car at the time of the accident that ended with Buccaneers ‘backer Kendell Beckwith fracturing an ankle, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Barrow and Beckwith were LSU teammates. The crash occurred at around 1 a.m., April 12. The vehicle veered off a road and crashed into a gate, per Laine. Although authorities said Barrow did not show signs of impairment, he was given a citation for driving with a suspended license.

Texans Hire GM Brian Gaine, Extend HC Bill O’Brien

The Texans have locked up their head coach and general manager duo for the foreseeable future. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the organization has handed out “matching” contracts to coach Bill O’Brien and new GM Brian Gaine. The new GM received a five-year pact, while O’Brien signed a four-year deal. The new contracts will keep the pair in Houston through the 2022 season.

Bill O'BrienWe learned earlier this week that the Texans were expected to hire Gaine as their new general manager. The former Bills vice president of player personnel is returning to Houston after only a single season in Buffalo. Gaine previously served as the Texans director of player personnel before moving on last offseason. The executive had garnered plenty of attention over the past several years, having interviewed for GM gigs in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.

Meanwhile, we also heard rumblings that the Texans were looking to extend O’Brien, whose contract was set to expire following the 2018 campaign. There were rumors throughout the season that O’Brien could be let go, as the coach was engaged in a constant power struggle with former general manager Rick Smith. However, O’Brien ultimately assisted in the team’s search for a new GM, an indication that he was apart of the team’s future plans. The 48-year-old has spent the past four seasons in Houston, compiling a 31-33 record and a pair of playoff appearances.

The Texans weren’t finished refining their front office. Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston tweets that the organization also promoted Chris Olsen from vice president/administration to senior vice president/administration. Olsen was responsible for negotiating the deals with Gaine and O’Brien, and he also manages the team’s salary cap.

With Gaine and O’Brien locked up, the Texans can now shift their focus to the offseason. It may be difficult to add young talent, as Houston will be operating without their first- and second-round picks. However, they’ll be armed with around $56MM in cap space, which could allow them to make a big splash in free agency.

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Texans To Hire Brian Gaine As GM

The Texans are expected to make Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine their next general manager, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Brian Gaine (vertical)

Gaine, who interviewed for the Houston position on Tuesday, had been considered the favorite for the job. He’ll make his return to the Texans — with whom he previously served as director of player personnel — after a single season in Buffalo. Gaine has drawn GM interest around the league in the past, and he’s interviewed for positions in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago over the past several seasons.

While Gaine was the frontrunner to become Texans general manager, Houston did have a lengthy list of initial candidates. However, the Texans were declined permission to interview the Patriots’ Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort and the Eagles’ Joe Douglas, while the Packers’ Brian Gutekunst and the Cowboys’ Will McClay declined to interview. Texans assistant GM Jimmy Rye III was the only candidate other than Gaine to actually interview.

Gaine will be strapped to add talent via the draft in his first season as Texans GM, as Houston has already traded away both its first- and second-round picks. However, the Texans could make hay during the free agent period, as the club ranks sixth in 2018 cap space with roughly $56MM available.

As PFR’s 2018 GM Tracker indicates, both of the general manager vacancies in the NFL have now been filled: Gaine in Houston, and Gutekunst in Green Bay.

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Texans To Interview Jimmy Raye III, Brian Gaine For GM Post

Mentioned as a possible candidate for the Texans’ GM job, Jimmy Raye III will have a chance to state his case for a promotion.

The Texans are interviewing Raye on Monday for the vacant GM job, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. Raye currently works as the franchise’s assistant GM and vice president of football operations.

Houston also scheduled a meeting with former exec Brian Gaine, who is now with the Bills. The Texans will meet with Gaine on Tuesday, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter).

The Bills’ current VP of player personnel is viewed as the favorite to take over for Rick Smith while he’s on a leave of absence. McClain also views Gaine as the favorite but notes Raye saw his responsibilities increase because Smith was spending additional time caring for his ailing wife (Twitter links).

Raye has worked in his current role for less than a year. Houston hired Raye in May to replace Gaine, who moved to Buffalo upon Brandon Beane becoming the Bills’ GM. Raye interviewed to become the Colts’ GM and operated as Indianapolis’ interim GM in between Ryan Grigson and Chris Ballard‘s tenures while also meeting with 49ers brass about San Francisco’s 2017 GM vacancy. Raye worked with the Colts for four years and spent 17 with the Chargers.

Gaine has interviewed for several GM jobs in over the past few years, doing so most recently with the Bills in May. He spent three seasons with the Texans and carries 19 years of NFL experience.

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Latest On Texans, Cowboys Exec Will McClay

Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay says he has permission to speak with the Texans regarding their vacant general manager position, but he has yet to be contacted by Houston, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) reported earlier today that McClay had declined to interview with the Texans. Houston requested permission to interview McClay earlier this morning.Texans Helmet (Vertical)

As PFR’s 2018 General Manger Search Tracker indicates, the Texans’ list of potential candidates is quickly winnowing, as they’ve been denied permission to interview the Eagles’ Joe Douglas and the Patriots’ Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort. Brian Gutekunst, meanwhile, was expected to interview in Houston but was promoted to become Green Bay’s GM earlier today.

While internal candidate Jimmy Raye III has also been mentioned as an option for the Texans, the clear favorite for the position is Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine. Peter Schrager of NFL.com reported last week that Gaine — who previously spent three years in Houston — was the frontrunner for the vacancy, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) reiterated today that Gaine should be expected to return to the Texans.