Cal McNair

Latest On Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is still on the Houston Texans, but team chairman and CEO Cal McNair insinuated that the trade winds could change on a dime. While McNair wouldn’t rate the team’s chances of trading Watson before the November 2nd trade deadline, he did say the situation is fluid and “day-to-day.”

“We’ll just wait and see,” McNair told Aaron Wilson of SportsTalk790. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we’ll see how that works out.”

Watson’s initial trade request partly stemmed from the team’s hiring of general manager Nick Caserio and coach David Culley, with the quarterback citing a lack of communication during the process. McNair was asked about the awkward position his GM and HC have been put in, noting they’ve “made the very best of it.”

“I think they’ve been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they’ve made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day,” McNair said. “So, we’ll see where it goes.”

Meanwhile, a new suitor could emerge in the Watson sweepstakes. While the Dolphins remain the favorite to acquire the quarterback, “some GMs believe the Saints could emerge as a darkhorse,” according to CBS’s Jason La Canfora (and passed along by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on Twitter). Meanwhile, La Canfora reiterated that the Eagles aren’t in play for the 26-year-old.

The 2-2 Saints haven’t necessarily struggled to find the end zone, and they’re middle-of-the-road with scoring. While Jameis Winston has done an admirable job filling in for Drew Brees, the Saints also rank toward the bottom of the league in both completions and attempts. The team is clearly keeping Winston on a tight leash, and Watson would provide the Saints with a better chance to replicate the high-powered offense they had for more than a decade.

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Texans Had Offered Omar Khan GM Job Before Hiring Nick Caserio

We’ve known for a few days now that the Texans’ process in hiring Nick Caserio didn’t sit well with Deshaun Watson, and as we get more details it’s not hard to see why.

It appears owner Cal McNair acted quite erratically, disregarding the advice of the search firm he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. The situation is even more bizarre than that though, as he had apparently already offered the job to Steelers exec Omar Khan before changing his mind at the last minute and pivoting to Caserio, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio adds the team was even in the midst of negotiating a contract with Khan at the time the decision was made.

Apparently, controversial executive Jack Easterby got McNair’s ear one last time before things were finalized, and convinced him to backtrack. The whole thing appears to be dysfunctional, which is Watson’s main source of frustration, and may cause him to demand a trade. Florio notes that agent Bob LaMonte represents both Caserio and Easterby, and a source told him LaMonte placed a phone call to McNair that also helped swing things.

LaMonte reportedly told McNair that Caserio was going to become GM of the Panthers if he didn’t hire him. Florio also reports that Texans team president Jamey Rootes is very upset with how everything has played out, and people around the league think he’s on the verge of an exit.

One source said Rootes already has tried to resign, but that he’s been convinced by McNair to hold off in order for the team not to look too chaotic right now. Given everything that has been trickling out, that might be impossible.

Deshaun Watson Considering Trade Demand?

Multiple reports over the past few days have indicated that quarterback Deshaun Watson is unhappy with the Texans, and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com has thrown his hat into the ring. Mortensen says that the rumblings about Watson’s displeasure are accurate, and that Watson could even demand a trade (Twitter links).

In addition to Watson’s concerns about how the Texans’ GM search unfolded, which we have already detailed, Mortensen says the three-time Pro Bowl passer continues to be concerned about the team’s insensitivity to social justice issues. In Watson’s view, that insensitivity manifested itself in the team’s decision to not interview Chiefs’ OC Eric Bieniemy, who is black, one of the hottest head coaching candidates in this year’s cycle, and a personal favorite of Watson’s (though Mortensen clarified in a later tweet that Watson’s anger is not “strongly connected” to social justice matters and is more related to the state of the franchise).

And according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Watson is not just upset by the fact that owner Cal McNair did not consider the GM or head coaching candidates that Watson endorsed, despite assurances that he would at least take his quarterback’s opinions into account. McNair, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have the search firm Korn Ferry assist with the GM and HC hunt, ultimately disregarded the firm’s GM recommendations. Korn Ferry tabbed Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as the two most viable candidates for the GM position, but McNair instead forged ahead with Nick Caserio, whom he had been targeting for some time.

Schefter went on to say that Watson, whose anger level on a scale of 1 to 10 was a 2 when the team traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last year, is currently at a 10. While Caserio said in his introductory press conference that Watson is the Texans’ quarterback — thereby implying he would not trade him — Watson could certainly make life difficult for Caserio if he chooses to do so.

Interestingly, a Watson trade would not be as damaging to the Texans’ books as one might think, given that the Clemson product just signed a massive extension earlier this year. A trade would leave Houston with just $21.6MM in dead money for the 2021 season, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, multiple GMs believe the Texans could acquire up to three first-round picks in a Watson deal.

Watson does have a no-trade clause written into his new contract, but according to Mortensen, he would consider a trade to the Dolphins. Of course, Houston would have had the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, but it traded that selection, along with its 2021 second-rounder, to Miami as part of the Laremy Tunsil swap in 2019. The Dolphins, who also hold their own first-round selection in this year’s draft (No. 18 overall) have the capital and the cap space to get a deal done.

Mortensen suggests that Tua Tagovailoa would head to Houston as part of a Watson trade, which would be a controversial and career-defining move if Caserio were to make it. Obviously, that is little more than speculation at this point, but it appears Watson’s feelings towards the Texans will be a major storyline of this offseason.

In related news, Korn Ferry named Colts DC Matt Eberflus as one of the top candidates for the Texans’ HC vacancy, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (via Twitter). McNair at least tried to interview Eberflus, but Eberflus turned down the request. Breer notes in a separate tweet that Houston is also eyeing Bills OC Brian Daboll, who has interviews lined up with the Chargers and Jets.

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Caserio: Deshaun Watson Is Our Quarterback

Star quarterback Deshaun Watson is not happy that the Texans failed to truly involve him in their search for a GM despite being told that they would do so. That has led to speculation that Watson could request a trade from Houston, but in his introductory press conference, new general manager Nick Caserio tried to quash any such rumors.

“[Watson is] our quarterback,” Caserio said. “I can’t tell you how much respect and admiration I have for him as a player” (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).

That’s all well and good, and a trade might be difficult to pull off anyway given that Watson just signed a massive extension that runs through the 2025 season (though there would likely be no shortage of teams willing to take on Watson’s contract and give up significant draft capital to land him, and the dead cap charge on Houston’s books would be a relatively modest $21.6MM). But as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes, Watson remains highly upset, and the team has been unable to get in touch with him. He is on vacation, but it doesn’t sound as if that has anything to do with the lack of communication. Wilson says that Watson is in no mood to hear from the team right now, and that it will be some time before he is ready to talk about his unhappiness.

At today’s presser, owner Cal McNair said the following: “I’ve come to understand [Watson] feels left out of the process. … [H]e and I had several visits and I understood his point of view before meeting with candidates. I’ve reached out to Deshaun and I look forward to him getting back to me when he returns from his vacation” (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26).

That statement jibes with yesterday’s report that McNair and Watson did indeed meet to discuss GM candidates, but the problem is that McNair did not even consider the names that Watson — who was reportedly representing a large group of his teammates — endorsed. Watson did not necessarily expect McNair to choose one of his candidates, and he does not have an issue with the Caserio hire in and of itself, but he feels as though he was given little more than lip service before McNair charged ahead with the exec he has been eyeing for a long time.

So one of Caserio’s primary orders of business will be to smooth things over with Watson — whenever Watson is ready — and he will also need to find a new head coach. Of course, Watson was also told that he would have input into the team’s HC search, and the fact that the Texans will not so much as interview Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy — who was said to be one of Watson’s top choices — is surely contributing to the quarterback’s displeasure.

Another nugget to come out of the press conference is that executive VP Jack Easterby will remain with the team. Some say that Easterby, who was brought in to improve the club’s culture, has only made it worse, and that he has an inordinate amount of sway over McNair (a notion buttressed by Easterby’s relationship with Caserio, which dates back to their days with the Patriots). However, as McNair has stated previously and reiterated today, Easterby — who had been serving as interim GM after Bill O’Brien‘s dismissal — will return to some of his earlier roles (Twitter link via Wilson). Caserio will have full control over the roster, the draft, and free agency.

As Wilson notes in a separate tweet, Caserio had plenty of positive things to say about Easterby. “Jack and I have had a special relationship,” Caserio said. “He’s helped me a lot personally. He’s someone I’ve always leaned on. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for [him].”

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Deshaun Watson Unhappy With Texans

Despite Deshaun Watson‘s standout season, the Texans went 4-12. They do not have a first- or second-round draft pick this year and have a roster in need at many areas after Bill O’Brien‘s criticized GM tenure.

Watson was told he would have a say in the Texans’ GM and head coach searches. But owner Cal McNair did not discuss the Nick Caserio hire with the quarterback, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who adds Watson is “extremely unhappy” with the Texans (Twitter link).

The Pro Bowl passer offered input on GM candidates, but the Texans did not consider any of his recommendations, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. Watson is not upset about the Caserio hire but is disappointed in the team’s process, Rapoport tweets. It is not exactly unusual for an organization to hire a GM without consulting its quarterback, but Schefter notes Watson and McNair met on several occasions about this hire. Now, Caserio appears to have a key assignment on his hands as he starts his $6MM-per-year job.

Back in October, we heard he was to be consulted about the team’s head coach search. Three months later, the Texans have been unable to reach Watson, Rapoport tweets, and may well be moving forward without Eric Bieniemy — for whom Watson previously advocated. The now-Caserio-run Texans did not request an interview with the Chiefs OC.

Man, it just starts with the energy and just the foundation of this program. There’s no real foundation in view. Everyone sees it. Everyone knows that. Got to have a guy that can come in and stand strong, stand 10 toes down and, (say), ‘Hey, this is the way it’s going to go, and this is the way we’re going to win,'” Watson said earlier this week, via NFL.com’s James Palmer (on Twitter).

That’s what we need. It’s kind of just up in the air right now. That’s what I’m looking forward to, some disciplined responsibility and some good, fun energy that cares about winning championships and winning games but at the same time is coming in to work each and every day regardless.”

Some of this strife dates back to last year, when Watson expressed disappointment the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins without discussing the move with him. The organization making another big move without Watson’s input is believed to be a much bigger issue with him, Schefter adds. Watson has “quietly broached” the prospect of a trade request, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Watson’s contract contains a no-trade clause, which would empower the quarterback to approve his destination — should this saga reach that stage.

Shortly after Patrick Mahomes‘ 10-year extension, Watson signed a more traditionally structured deal — a four-year, $156MM pact. He is signed through the 2025 season. It would certainly be shocking to see the Texans agree to trade their centerpiece player; such a move would certainly be financially prohibitive. The Texans guaranteed Watson nearly $75MM at signing. Watson agreed to the extension after the Hopkins trade and threw for a league-high 4,823 yards at an NFL-best 8.9 per attempt without the All-Pro wideout. The former Clemson national champion passer added a career-most 33 touchdown passes despite the core members of his post-Hopkins receiving corps being frequently unavailable.

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Extra Points: Watson, Tagovailoa, Prescott

The Houston Texans are at a crossroads as an organization. After surprisingly firing Bill O’Brien toward the beginning of the year they were left without a head coach and GM. Romeo Crennel and Jack Easterby have taken over those roles on an interim basis, but the franchise is currently in a bit of a rut and lacking direction. They’re also without a lot of draft picks, including their first-rounder next April, due to trades O’Brien made. As they look to dig themselves out of that mess, owner Cal McNair is apparently leaving no stone unturned.

McNair recently had dinner with quarterback Deshaun Watson, the one thing the team has going for them at the moment, and he picked his brain about what he’d like to see moving forward, McNair told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Schefter writes that “McNair wanted to hear Watson’s thoughts and opinions on who should be the next head coach.” Assuming Watson gets legit input, it would be relatively safe to assume the Texans will target an offensive mind. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy is sure to be a hot name, although there are plenty of other offensive minds as well.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Tua Tagovailoa‘s honeymoon as the Dolphins’ quarterback came to an end Sunday in a loss to the Broncos. Tagovailoa struggled mightily during the defeat, and was pulled for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Speaking after the game, head coach Brian Flores confirmed Tagovailoa did not have an injury and was benched for performance. That being said, Flores also wasted no time declaring that his rookie will be his starter next week, meaning we’ll have to wait again for our first dose of Fitzmagic. Tagovailoa was 11/20 for only 83 yards before getting pulled during the loss, which snapped Miami’s five-game winning streak. He’ll have a get-right spot against the Jets next week.
  • Fortunately, we’ve got another positive update to pass along on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Appearing on the radio Friday, team EVP Stephen Jones said he’s been getting “amazing reports” from doctors on Prescott’s status, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “Shouldn’t come as any surprise,” Jones said. “He does everything to the nines and the 10s and he just does it the very best. He’s been so diligent in his rehab and that shouldn’t surprise anybody. They said if anything he’s ahead of schedule and rolling. That should come as no surprise. So we expect him to have a full recovery.” Jones also reiterated that Prescott avoided any infections, which can sometimes occur with compound fractures. Everything continues to look good for Prescott’s chances of being ready for Week 1 of 2021.
  • Let’s wrap things up with some punter news. Veteran specialist Jon Ryan has been working out and has drawn interest from teams recently, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Ryan is 38 now but clearly has no plans of hanging up his cleats. Pelissero notes he led the CFL in gross punting average last season. He most notably spent ten years as the Seahawks’ punter from 2008-17.

Texans’ CEO: Jack Easterby Won’t Be GM

The Texans will not appoint Jack Easterby as their next GM. That’s what team president Jamey Rootes told reporters earlier this week, and that was hammered home on Thursday by team CEO Cal McNair.

Let me reiterate: Jack will not be our general manager,” McNair said when asked about the club’s Executive Vice President. “But, he will have a significant role in helping shape our future here within the Texans…(Easterby) is going to be an incredibly valuable part of our franchise moving forward as he works with our next general manager and head coach. I want to build something that our fans, players and staff are proud of. It’s okay to be under construction right now.”

The Texans kicked off their construction in earnest earlier this year by firing head coach/GM Bill O’Brien. The process has been a trying one for Texans fans, who watched running back David Johnson go on IR while DeAndre Hopkins added an all-timer to his highlight reel for the Cardinals. On the other side of the ball, cornerback Gareon Conley has been ruled out, leaving the Texans paper thin in the secondary. On the plus side, interim head coach Romeo Crennel has them in the win column, which is more than O’Brien was able to do. The Texans will look for win No. 3 this week against the Patriots.

Latest On Texans’ GM, HC Search

With Bill O’Brien gone, the Texans find themselves with an interim GM in Jack Easterby and an interim HC in Romeo Crennel. Earlier this week, team owner Cal McNair said that internal conversations as to how the team will permanently fill those roles had yet to begin, but it seems that has changed.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, McNair has hired Jed Hughes, the vice chairman of the search firm Korn Ferry, to assist him. The club will reportedly wait until after the season to hire a new head coach and general manager, but obviously McNair wants to start the process as soon as possible. Interestingly, Hughes also played a key role in helping the Texans identify and hire O’Brien back in 2014.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Patriots exec Nick Caserio is once again under consideration for the Houston GM job. As many of our readers probably remember, the Texans made a play for Caserio in June 2019, only to back out when the Pats threatened to file tampering charges.

Caserio is widely considered to be a top GM candidate, and though he did sign a two-year extension with New England in February, La Canfora says that the new deal prohibits the Pats from interfering with Caserio’s pursuit of a GM job. JLC adds that McNair remains high on Caserio.

Meanwhile, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who has been a hot head coaching candidate in recent years, was one of the first names to surface in speculation after O’Brien’s dismissal. And La Canfora says Bieniemy has a fan in Texans QB Deshaun Watson, whose opinion and feedback will be valued by McNair. Indeed, Watson has already advocated for Bienemy, who may have several options but who will unlikely find an HC-needy team with a signal-caller as good as Watson.

McNair is said to be seeking a QB guru, so Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Bills OC Brian Daboll will also be under consideration.

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Texans Owner: Jack Easterby To Serve As Interim GM Only

Jack Easterby is the Texans’ interim GM, but he won’t be the team’s Texans’ GM for the 2021 season, owner Cal McNair tells John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. McNair also confirmed that he won’t give his next head coach the GM title.

We’ll search for a general manager first, find the right guy, and then we’ll hire the coach,” McNair said. “Jack’s agreed to be the interim general manager while we conduct our search. Once we find the right GM, Jack will return to his position as executive vice president of football operations.”

O’Brien was fired on Monday after the Texans got off to an 0-4 start. For now, Romeo Crennel is serving as the team’s interim head coach. McNair says that the team’s internal conversations to fill the HC and GM roles have yet to begin. The speculation, however, started immediately. Speculatively, some have suggested that Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, current defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (Deshaun Watson’s former coach at Clemson) could be in the head coaching mix. For what it’s worth, Swinney says he’s not thinking about the Texans vacancy.

On the GM side, some wondered whether Easterby would wind up with the job, given his influence within the organization. Apparently, that won’t be happening — McNair says that Easterby will remain the club’s executive vice president of football operations, with another exec having final say over the roster.

Texans GM To Control Team Personnel, HC Bill O’Brien To Be On Search Committee

There’s new developments regarding the Texans quest to find a new general manager. The team’s owner, Bob McNair, told reporters today that the person they eventually hire will have control of personnel over current head coach Bill O’Brien, relays John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). However, McClain does note that O’Brien, along with team president Jamey Rootes, will be with McNair and Cal McNair as the four-man the team conducting the search.

Bob McNair (Vertical)

“The GM is going to have full authority over personnel, and he’ll report to Cal and me,” said the Texans owner. “That’s our message to potential GMs, We know what we want. We’ll pick somebody that Cal and I like, coach O’Brien likes and Jamey likes. We pretty much agree on what we’re looking for.” (via McClain on Twitter)

While the job should be sought after by many people across the league, McNair also stated that he doesn’t want the general manager to reshape front office, although he did say that he could allow for some potential new hires given who they ultimately agree to bring into the organization.

“He may have 1 or 2 key people he’s worked with, and he might want to bring them in,” said McNair. “That’s reasonable. It’s also reasonable to ask that person to work with the people we have this year and Cal what he thinks. We’re not going to have somebody come in and clean house.” (via McClain)

This is an interesting process for the Texans ownership group because executive vice president Rick Smith‘s situation is really up-in-the-air given that he will be home with his wife who is battling cancer. McNair does seem intent on waiting a year to feel out what Smith’s situation may look like in 2019.

“We don’t know what Rick might do,” said the owner. “That’s something we’ll discuss a year from now. The only concern is to take care of his family, and we’re not going beyond that.” (via McClain)

There’s already been some GM candidates speculated, including: Nick Caserio (Patriots), Brian Gaine (Bills) and Brian Gutekunst (Packers). Although, there should be more names that will arise in the next week or two. It’s expected to be a quick process and we now know that the new hire will have primary control on the roster entering the 2018 season.

 

 

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