Texans Rumors

Texans CBs Bradley Roby, Lonnie Johnson Jr. Dealing With Injuries

The Texans are still looking for a GM, they have no clarity on the Jadeveon Clowney situation, and they have some worrisome injury news concerning their cornerbacks. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, new CBs Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr. are both dealing with ailments that have largely kept them off the field over the past couple of months.

Roby, who signed a one-year, $10MM contract with Houston in March, struggled as a full-time player for the Broncos in 2018 after a strong run as Denver’s nickel man. Still, his track record was enough to merit a three-year, $30MM offer from the Steelers, though Roby elected to take a prove-it deal from Houston in the hopes of landing a top-of-the-market payout in 2020.

But Roby was sidelined for the majority of the spring with soft-tissue injuries, and the hope is that he will be back to full health by the time training camp opens next month. Head coach Bill O’Brien said, “[Roby] hasn’t done much, so we’ll just have to see in training camp.”

The Texans drafted Johnson, a Kentucky product, in the second round of April’s draft, and he has all the physical tools one could want in a corner. At 6-2, 213 pounds, Johnson ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine and showed flashes of potential with the Texans this spring, but his own soft-tissue injuries forced him to miss a lot of practice time.

Johnson, like Roby, is expected to be ready for training camp, though O’Brien was non-committal on that front. Given the injury issues, and given that Houston ranked 28th in pass defense in 2018, the Texans may turn to the free agent or trade market for CB help. Morris ClaiborneSam ShieldsDavon HouseCaptain MunnerlynCoty Sensabaugh, and Marcus Williams are among the best FA corners available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Texans Hire As Their Next GM?

The NFL news cycle over the past few weeks has been largely dominated by surprise GM vacancies, and while the Jets filled their opening with Joe Douglas, who has quickly generated a great deal of excitement in New York, the Texans are still looking for their next GM.

Of course, the club had zeroed in on Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, but Houston abandoned its pursuit shortly after New England filed tampering charges against the Texans. Houston may have been successful if it had elected to fight those charges and the provisions in Caserio’s contract with the Patriots that may prohibit him from interviewing with other clubs, but it chose to take the path of least resistance.

So where do the Texans go from here? Aside from Caserio, the only other candidates that Houston has definitely expressed interest in are former Browns GM Ray Farmer and former Lions GM Martin Mayhew, both of whom have already interviewed with the club. However, neither one seems like a home run hire.

Farmer’s two years as Cleveland’s top exec (2014-15) did not do much to inspire confidence, as he generally failed in both free agency and the draft. Some of his draft picks (Joel Bitonio) and free agent signings (Andrew HawkinsJosh McCown) did work out. But he also handed $9MM in guaranteed money to receiver Dwayne Bowe — who had five catches in his first and only year with Cleveland — and used first-round picks on Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert.

Mayhew, currently the 49ers’ vice president of player personnel, had his ups and downs in Detroit, but he did construct several playoff rosters — not an easy thing to do for Lions’ GMs — and he remains well-respected in front office circles. If the Texans’ choice ultimately comes down to Farmer and Mayhew, Mayhew would appear to be the superior candidate.

Other names that have been floated as potential targets include Reggie McKenzie and Scott Pioli. McKenzie enjoyed some success as the Raiders’ GM for seven years — including an executive of the year award in 2016 — and he currently serves as a senior personnel executive with the Dolphins. His ouster from Oakland had more to do with the club forcing him to cede most of his authority to head coach Jon Gruden than anything else, and there has been plenty of speculation that he could return to the GM ranks at some point.

Pioli, meanwhile, recently stepped down from his post as Falcons assistant GM, and he said he did so simply to “pursue other opportunities.” At the time, the Jets’ GM job had just come open, though Pioli was never named as a candidate for that position. He served as the Chiefs’ general manager from 2009-12, which was a mostly forgettable stretch of time in Kansas City franchise history, but he does have over 20 years of front office experience.

Although the Texans were interested in Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort when they were looking for a GM in 2018, New England denied the club’s interview request at that time. Houston did not request an interview with Ossenfort in 2019, and given the Caserio debacle, it would be quite surprising if they reversed course. In fact, the Texans may not hire a GM at all this year.

So how do you think this situation will be resolved? Let us know who you think the Texans will name as their GM in 2019 (if anyone), and feel free to explain your thoughts in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Nick Caserio, Patriots, Texans

It’s been a tumultuous few days for the Patriots and Texans, as the two sides went back and forth regarding the availability of executive Nick Caserio. In an attempt to diffuse any lingering tension between the two organizations, Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement last night (via Twitter):

“The Houston Texans and New England Patriots have always had a great working relationship. We appreciate the way Cal McNair has handled this situation.”

To review, the Texans owner said yesterday that the organization learned of “certain terms” in Caserio’s contract and would no longer be pursuing the executive for the general manager opening. At the same time, New England had agreed to drop their tampering charges against Houston, which would seemingly end the entire ordeal.

Of course, nothing ever ends in the NFL. There have been plenty of additional opinions regarding the Caserio fiasco, which we’ve compiled below…

  • Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explores the contract language that prevented Caserio from leaving New England for Houston, and the writer wonders if the terms violate league rules. Florio points to the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, which says “If . . . the inquiring club is prepared to offer a position as a high-level employee . . . the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.” Based on this description, Florio believes the anti-tampering clause would supersede any clause in Caserio’s contract.
  • Furthermore, if the Texans wanted to challenge the clause, the NFL may have had their back. A source told Florio that at least one other NFL team was employing a “non-high-level employee” with that kind of stipulation in their contract. The source said that one rival team attempted to challenge that clause, and the NFL ultimately invalidated the specific contract terms. In other words, if the Texans had challenged the Caserio clause, there’s a good chance they would have been successful.
  • Meanwhile, Florio wonders if the Patriots and Caserio will be able to repair their relationship, as it appears that the executive was focused on moving to Houston. If the relationship has deteriorated beyond repair, Florio believes the Patriots will “begin to implement a strategy for eventually replacing him.”

Latest On Texans' GM Vacancy

The big story of the day has been the drama surrounding Patriots exec Nick Caserio. The Texans announced earlier today that they’d be backing down from their pursuit of Caserio, and the Patriots in turn agreed to drop tampering charges. The Texans’ statement from owner Cal McNair indicated there was a provision in Caserio’s contract they were unaware of, and now we have some clarity. It was initially thought he would be allowed to interview since the Texans’ job is a clear promotion, but Caserio apparently has language in his contract that specifically forbids him from interviewing with any other team.

Caserio’s contract ends right after the 2020 draft, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero floats the possibility that the Texans could wait until then to hire a GM and then go after Caserio, which is in line with another recent report that indicated the Texans might go without a GM for the rest of the season. In a follow-up tweet Pelissero writes that “the call between Cal McNair and Robert Kraft was very cordial,” and that after the Texans learned of the contract language they “asked what a trade would cost,” but the Patriots declined. It’s fair to question why the Texans wouldn’t be aware of such language before they made it very clear that they wanted Caserio for the job, although that’s now a question for another day. Pelissero also was told that for now “the process will continue,” so it seems like they aren’t closing the door on hiring a GM for this year quite yet. Non-Caserio candidates reportedly include former GMs Ray Farmer, Martin Mayhew, Reggie McKenzie, and Scott Pioli.

  • The Texans aren’t the only team shuffling around their front office. The Packers promoted Richmond Williams to director of pro personnel and Brett Thiesen to college scout, per Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. Williams is entering his twelfth year with the team, and originally joined Green Bay as a scouting intern all the way back in 2007. Green Bay’s power structure remains unchanged, with team president Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst still running the show.

Latest On Texans, Houston Could Go Without GM In 2019

The Texans didn’t get their guy. After a brief battle with the Patriots over Nick Caserio which resulted in the Pats filing tampering charges, the Texans backed off.

Just about an hour ago, the Texans agreed to stop pursuing Caserio, with the Patriots agreeing to drop the tampering charges. Texans owner Cal McNair released a statement with the announcement, and now we have one from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “The Houston Texans and New England Patriots have always had a great working relationship. We appreciate the way Cal McNair has handled this situation,” the brief statement posted to Twitter reads.

This incident was particularly awkward because of all the crossover between the two teams. Texans coach Bill O’Brien is a former Bill Belichick protege, and a lot of Houston’s coaching staff and front office has come from New England. With the ordeal over with and the Texans not getting their top choice, they’ll have to move on. We’ve already heard of their interest in a number of candidates, including former GMs Ray Farmer, Martin Mayhew, Reggie McKenzie, and Scott Pioli. But in the wake of this headache, the Texans are apparently considering not filling the vacancy at all.

“There now is a scenario under which the Texans will go this season without an official General Manager,” Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted. Schefter writes that “for less than a year, Bill O’Brien, Jack Easterby and the scouting dept could divvy up the duties.” That would be very unusual, but it sounds like a legit possibility at this point. Easterby came out of nowhere to suddenly become a powerful figure in Houston’s front office, and this could be an opportunity for him to seize even more control.

The Texans won the AFC South last year, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with all the recent dysfunction surrounding the team. Deshaun Watson is heading into a pivotal third season, and O’Brien could be on the hot seat if things don’t go well in 2019. It’ll be very interesting to see what they do next.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Will No Longer Pursue Nick Caserio, Patriots Dropping Tampering Charges

The drama between the Texans and Patriots appears to be over. New England has agreed to drop the tampering charges against Houston, and the Texans have agreed to stop pursuing Nick Caserio for their general manager vacancy, per a statement from Texans owner Cal McNair, via Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link).

“We have now been made aware of certain terms in Nick’s contract with the Patriots. Once we were made aware of these contract terms, I informed Mr. [Robert] Kraft that we would stop pursuing Nick,” McNair’s statement reads in part. As soon as Houston fired Brian Gaine, word leaked that they preferred Caserio, a Patriots exec, for the job. The Texans tried interviewing Caserio the last time they had a vacancy, and the Patriots blocked it. New England clearly values Caserio very highly, and they weren’t going to let him get away easily this time either. 

On Wednesday, the Patriots officially filed tampering charges with the league. The Texans announced the firing of Gaine the same day as the Patriots’ ring ceremony, which reportedly setoff some alarm bells in New England. For a while yesterday, it seemed like the Patriots and Texans might come to an agreement where Houston would send over a draft pick in return for Caserio, but that turned out not to be the case.

McNair’s public statement would seem to suggest that the Patriots had a legitimate case with their tampering charge, and the Texans didn’t want to risk discipline from the league. With Caserio of the list, the Texans will move forward with several known candidates to replace Gaine. We heard earlier this week that in addition to interviewing former Lions GM Martin Mayhew and former Browns GM Ray Farmer, the team was also interested in former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort, and former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli

 

Patriots, Texans Could Ultimately Agree To Deal For Nick Caserio?

The Patriots on Wednesday filed tampering charges against the Texans, who are pursuing New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio for their open general manager position. Speculation arose that the Patriots could accept draft pick compensation in exchange for Caserio, and that indeed may be the ultimate resolution to this saga.

A source with “knowledge of the dynamics and personalities involved” believes Houston will ultimately send a draft choice (or perhaps multiple draft choices) to New England in order to land Caserio, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The reasoning here is that if Caserio truly wants to leave the Patriots but isn’t allowed to defect, operations in New England could become “awkward.”

As John McClain of the Houston Chronicle indicated yesterday, the Texans are willing to give Caserio full control of their 53-man roster, and are open to putting that stipulation in writing. However, the NFL may need to determine whether Caserio is considered a “high level employee,” which would prevent him from leaving the Patriots even for a perceived promotion.

New Texans vice president of player development Jack Easterby — a former Patriots staffer — is in the middle of the controversy, as New England reportedly believes he discussed Houston’s GM job with Caserio at the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony last week. But as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reported earlier today, Easterby and Caserio share the same agent, which could help the Texans deflect charges of tampering.

Nick Caserio, Jack Easterby Share Agent

  • More from Breer (Twitter link), who notes that Texans figure Jack Easterby and Nick Caserio share an agent, which may make it easy for Houston to refute the Patriots‘ accusations of tampering. The Patriots claim that Easterby spoke with Caserio about the GM role at the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony last Thursday, which came hours before the dismissal of Brian Gaine. However, it could be hard for the Patriots to come up with concrete evidence of tampering since the two are former co-workers and share the same representation.

Latest On Texans, Patriots Exec Nick Caserio

The Patriots formally filed tampering charges against the Texans earlier Wednesday, accusing Houston of illegally pursuing director of player personnel Nick Caserio for its general manager vacancy. Here’s what we’ve learned about Caserio and the Texans since:

  • The league will look into evidence that Texans vice president of player development Jack Easterby spoke with Caserio about the GM role at the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony last Thursday, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Easterby, who serves as something of a “character coach,” held a similar title in New England until 2019. The ex-pastor has already earned a large amount of responsibility in Houston, was reportedly an offseason target for several clubs before landing with the Texans, as Michael Lombardi noted on a recent episode of his GM Shuffle podcast.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien says neither he nor Easterby has spoken with Caserio about the open general manager position, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I would say that the answer to that is no relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans,” O’Brien said. “No.”
  • Houston is willing to give Caserio a contract which gives him full control of its 53-man roster, reports John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. However, the Texans and Patriots are likely arguing over whether Caserio is considered a “high level employee,” a designation that would mean New England isn’t required to allow Caserio to depart, even for a perceived promotion, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes.
  • The Patriots could eventually ask the Texans for draft pick compensation in exchange for Caserio, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Indeed, Bill Belichick‘s endgame could simply be pressuring Houston into trading a draft selection for Caserio, as Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com speculates (Twitter link).

Patriots Accuse Texans Of Tampering

On Wednesday, the Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans for their attempted hire of Nick Caserio as their next GM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The NFL is now expected to gather relevant informant to open its investigation against the Texans.

Soon after the Texans’ surprise firing of GM Brian Gaine, the club was immediately linked to Caserio, the Patriots’ VP of player personnel. Initially, the belief was that the Patriots could not block Gaine from taking the job since it would be a clear elevation in titles and responsibility. But the Patriots, who are intent on keeping Caserio, may have found another way to ward off Houston.

The NFL’s anti-tampering policy states that “any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL” is impermissible. Reading between the lines, it sounds as though the Patriots believe the Texans engaged in direct talks with Caserio before getting the green light from New England.

The Texans firing of Gaine the night after the Patriots’ ring ceremony set off some alarm bells in New England, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Now, the league office must make a ruling before the Texans proceed with their planned hire of Caserio.