Rick Smith

Redskins Nearly Hired Rick Smith

There have been conflicting reports as to whether former Texans GM Rick Smith is ready to return to football, but if this morning’s report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com is accurate, Smith will be back in the league sooner rather than later.

In the wake of Washington’s dismissal of former team president Bruce Allen, owner Dan Snyder thought long and hard about replacing Allen with Smith, per Schefter. Snyder and Smith met in the Bahamas multiple times and discussed their plans for putting the Redskins back on the right track, but Snyder ultimately elected to make a fundamental change to his team’s power structure and run the franchise through his new head coach, Ron Rivera, rather than through a team president.

Sources expected a deal with Smith and the Redskins to get done, but an entirely different dynamic was probably the right way for Snyder to go. The conversations with Washington, though, suggest that Smith is going to return to a prominent position in the NFL in the near future. Smith’s wife passed away of cancer last January, and Smith left the Texans at the end of the 2017 to care for her and his three children.

As we heard when the Rivera hire was reported, the Redskins are expected to wait until after the draft to hire a GM, per Schefter (Twitter link). Snyder believes he has the people in place to get through free agency and the draft, though there will be changes to the front office after the draft is over. Louis Riddick has already been connected to the GM job, and John Keim of ESPN.com says Colts exec Morocco Brown is another name to watch out for. Interestingly, it does not sound as if Smith is a GM candidate for the ‘Skins.

In other Redskins news, Rivera is hiring former Panthers LBs coach Steve Russ to serve in the same capacity in Washington, per Schefter (via Twitter). Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio tweets that Rivera is also bringing on former Chargers assistant DBs coach Chris Harris to be the Redskins’ DBs coach.

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HC/GM Rumors: Gase, Lynn, Panthers, Shurmur

Black Monday is tomorrow, so let’s take a look at the latest coaching and GM rumors from around the league:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that neither man was really believed to be on the hot seat, but Jets HC Adam Gase and Chargers HC Anthony Lynn will both be back in 2020, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (h/t NFL Update on Twitter).
  • We learned yesterday that the Panthers would seek to interview Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, which David Newton of ESPN.com confirmed today. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report believes Rhule would leave Baylor if the right opportunity presented itself, despite signing a lengthy extension with the school back in September (Twitter link).
  • Despite speculation that the Panthers could look to move on from GM Marty Hurney, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic says owner Dave Tepper remains intent on keeping Hurney, and Hurney wants to stay (Twitter link). Tepper does want to bring in an assistant GM, and Joe Person of The Athletic offers a list of potential candidates. The problem, as NFL insider Adam Caplan observes, is that Carolina could be blocked from interviewing candidates under contract with other teams unless the Panthers’ gig comes with decision-making responsibilities (Twitter link).
  • We heard earlier today that the Browns are doing their due diligence on HC candidates, which isn’t a good sign for Freddie Kitchens. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, the team wanted to see modest progress from Kitchens this year, which is why a loss to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon could seal his fate. But for all his faults, Kitchens remains well-liked in the building, so he’s not a goner just yet. We also heard today that Browns GM John Dorsey may be on the hot seat.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reiterates yesterday’s report that Ron Rivera is high on the Redskins‘ wish list, and that Rivera could have a new job as soon as tomorrow (video link). However, other clubs also want a crack at Rivera. One of those clubs, the Cowboys, will almost certainly move on from Jason Garrett if they are eliminated from playoff contention today, and Rapoport names Rhule, Lincoln Riley, and Rivera as names to watch for Dallas’ expected vacancy.
  • In the same report, RapSheet says Giants ownership is split on head coach Pat Shurmur, with Steve Tisch wanting to move on and John Mara not quite convinced. A win over the Eagles today could save Shurmur’s job.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPN.com confirms (via Twitter) that former Texans GM Rick Smith is definitely a name to watch if the Redskins move on from Bruce Allen, which they are expected to do. Graziano says it’s still unclear as to whether Smith wants to return to a front office, contrary to a report from last month, but if he is, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will be interested. Mark Maske of the Washington Post hears that Smith, who lost his wife to cancer 11 months ago, is not quite ready to return to football (Twitter link).

Latest On Redskins’ HC Plans, Front Office

After little emerged on the Redskins front for weeks following Jay Gruden‘s firing, the struggling franchise is dominating the early-weekend news cycle. Bruce Allen‘s role as team president is not safe, with a Black Monday dismissal being considered.

The Redskins are considering firing their 10-year front office czar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports, adding that Allen may have a chance to remain with the organization in a non-football role. That would be an interesting setup given Allen’s tumultuous tenure in Washington, but Dan Snyder is pondering widespread changes to his football operations department.

Replacement options for Allen include ex-Texans GM Rick Smith and former NFL executive-turned-TV analyst Louis Riddick, La Canfora adds, noting Snyder has done research on a few personnel execs. Smith resigned from his Houston post after the 2017 season but is open to returning to the league. Riddick worked with the Redskins from 2001-07, serving as a scout and pro personnel director. He subsequently held the same role with the Eagles.

As for Washington’s HC opening, Snyder has “strong interest” in Ron Rivera, per JLC. The longtime Redskins owner is also interested in Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, ex-Jets HC and current Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles, longtime Bengals HC Marvin Lewis and former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. These are consolation prizes, though, with La Canfora reporting Snyder’s primary hope is to work out a trade for Mike Tomlin. Snyder is not optimistic about such a deal. The prospect of bringing the Virginia native to Washington surfaced two-plus months ago.

The prospect of bringing aboard a defensive coach opens the door to Washington sticking with top offensive incumbents Bill Callahan and Kevin O’Connell. Snyder is high on both his interim HC and first-year OC, according to La Canfora. Callahan expressed interest in staying on, though it’s not known if he would stick around under another head coach, and O’Connell has been the primary Dwayne Haskins developer this season. Snyder was the driving force behind the Redskins’ Haskins pick, overruling Gruden.

Allen has not excelled in Washington, but neither have most of the head coaches under Snyder. The Redskins have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons under the 21st-year owner.

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La Canfora’s Latest: Rivers, Garrett, Smith

CBS Sports scribe Jason La Canfora published his usual Sunday slate of items from around the league, including reports on the future of Panthers HC Ron Rivera in Carolina and the Titanspotential desire to re-sign QB Ryan Tannehill. Let’s take a look at a few more notes from JLC:

  • Chargers QB Philip Rivers is eligible for free agency at season’s end, and in light of his struggles in 2019, there has already been plenty of speculation about his future with the Bolts. La Canfora says the team is currently not planning on having any extension talks with Rivers’ camp, and for his part, Rivers has shown no desire in promoting the team’s move to Los Angeles (he still lives in San Diego and spends up to four hours a day commuting to and from the Chargers’ facility). La Canfora suggests that the Chargers, who may not be picking high enough in the 2020 draft to land a top collegiate passer, could move on from Rivers but may pursue a veteran signal-caller like Cam Newton.
  • La Canfora details all of the steps the league took to investigate Browns‘ DE Myles Garrett‘s claim that Steelers QB Mason Rudolph used a racial slur in the lead-up to the now infamous brawl between the two clubs, and the NFL did not find a shred of corroborating evidence. The good news for Cleveland is that the league currently has no intention of extending Garrett’s suspension into the 2020 season. Garrett will be required to schedule a meeting with the league and the union to have a “check-in” of sorts, but assuming that goes well, he should be reinstated without incident.
  • Former Texans GM Rick Smith left the team after the 2017 season when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, but he is open to returning to the league in 2020 should the right opportunity emerge. He is apparently ready and able to assume all duties that go along with running a franchise, and since there may be fewer elite GM candidates in 2020 than in years past, Smith could be appealing to a number of clubs. Although Houston is currently without a GM, La Canfora says a reunion between the two sides is not in the cards.

Texans Working To Extend Bill O’Brien

Having already found their next general manager in Brian Gaine today, the Texans are now shifting their focus to their coaching staff. Houston is working on an extension for head coach Bill O’Brien, whose contract was set to expire after the 2018 campaign, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link).Bill O'Brien

O’Brien had reportedly been involved in something of a power struggle with former GM Rick Smith, who was forced to take a leave of absence earlier this year when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now with something like full autonomy throughout the Houston organization, O’Brien was a member of the search committee that interviewed Gaine, who is reported to have a close relationship with the Texans head coach.

The 48-year-old O’Brien has been relatively successful during his four-year tenure in Houston, as he finished 9-7 in each season from 2014-16 and earned two postseason appearances during that time. Last year, the Texans managed only a 4-12 record, but the club almost certainly would have fared better had rookie sensation Deshaun Watson not torn his ACL in early November.

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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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Latest On Texans’ GM Search

The Texans’ GM search is just getting underway, but we’re already getting an idea of the names that could be in play for the job. External candidates expected to receive interest include Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort of the Patriots, Brian Gaine of the Bills, and Brian Gutekunst of the Packers (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Nick Caserio (vertical)

[RELATED: Browns Ask To Talk With Texans’ Sean Ryan]

Caserio is among this year’s top candidates for a GM position. While he rejected overtures from other teams before, a prime opportunity like the one in Houston could be the one to get him to leave New England. Some have speculated that he could wind up as a package deal with Josh McDaniels as head coach, but it sounds like Bill O’Brien will be retained by the Texans.

The Texans are on the hunt for a new GM after Rick Smith announced he would be taking a leave of absence to care for his wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. When Smith does return to the team, he’ll retain his Executive Vice President title, but he indicated that he will not be in charge of football decisions.

In whatever role that is, I am going to maintain Executive Vice President title. If we hire a GM and have a guy to run the personnel, then we’ll do that,” Smith said. “So, again, it’s a fluid process, but I am absolutely intend on coming back, I will maintain that at least the Executive Vice President title and if Mr. McNair feels like he wants to hire a general manager, then he will hire a general manager and that will be just fine.

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Texans GM Taking Leave Of Absence

Following Houston’s 22-13 loss vs. the Colts, Texans general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith announced he was taking an extended leave of absence to care for his wife, Tiffany, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Sarah Barshop reported. Rick Smith (Vertical)

In a statement, Smith said, “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.”

Smith has served as Houston’s general manager since 2006, when owner Bob McNair hired him as the youngest GM in the league at the age of 36. During his tenure with the team, Smith has constructed a team that claimed four AFC South division titles in a six-year span (2011-16). In his second season on the job, Smith helped the Texans to their first non-losing season in franchise history. He has only finished below .500 four times in 12 seasons.

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Texans Prepared To End “Toxic” Bill O’Brien-Rick Smith Relationship?

Much has emerged about the less-than-ideal relationship between Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith in Houston, but the Texans may be ready to make a choice at soon.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports the franchise has a troublesome situation on its hands regarding the GM/HC relationship. One source told the Texans reporter it’s become a “toxic” and “dysfunctional” relationship.

O’Brien said recently he would not quit on the Texans, and his contract runs through 2018. However, sources who spoke to Wilson about the Texans’ setup said owner Bob McNair waiting until O’Brien’s contract expires to make a change could create a “difficult work environment.”

The Ringer’s Michael Lombardi took this a step further by indicating (via Twitter) the league perception is Smith will be prioritized over O’Brien. Wilson and Lombardi note McNair and Smith have a close relationship. The GM’s served in this capacity since 2006. One source who spoke to Wilson said the pair could potentially make this work, but that seems to be the dissenting opinion amid this turmoil. Smith is under contract through 2020.

O’Brien was rumored to be possibly on his way out after last season, despite the Texans’ second straight AFC South title, but he was retained. Should O’Brien be shown the door in Houston, he’d likely be a coveted commodity on what could be a wild coaching market given how many vacancies could emerge after Week 17. He led the Texans to two straight playoff brackets despite the franchise continually misfiring at quarterback prior to landing Deshaun Watson — a Smith-preferred acquisition.

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Minor NFC Transactions: 5/15/17

Earlier today, we rounded up some minor moves out of the AFC. In the interest of equal time, we turn our attention to the NFC:

  • The Rams signed two Northwestern State alums in wide receiver Shakeir Ryan and running back De’Mard Llorens, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. In addition to the skill-position talents from the Natchitoches, Louisiana-based program, the Rams added another small-school product in Mary Hardin-Baylor linebacker Teidrick Smith. The two Division I-FCS talents and Division III defender will displace two Rams in defensive back Jared Collins and offensive lineman Shaq McMeans, per Gonzalez. Their roster currently houses 89 players.
  • Former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas signed with the Saints, who also added guard Josh LeRibeus and running back Trey Edmunds, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports. The 5-foot-11 Thomas operated as a dual-threat quarterback with the Yellowjackets and probably would convert positions for an NFL opportunity. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore in the program’s run-centric offense and threw for 18 touchdown passes that season. In the two subsequent slates, Thomas combined to throw 21 TDs. The son of former Dolphins Pro Bowl tight end Ferrell Edmunds, Trey Edmunds served as a reserve at Virginia Tech and Maryland.
  • On a busy Monday, the Saints signed Drew Iddings, a source tells Underhill (on Twitter). Iddings, a former defensive lineman, will be trying to stick as an offensive guard. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound athlete has no significant experience on offense, but New Orleans believes that the powerful lineman can make a smooth transition. In college at South Dakota, Iddings appeared in 46 games and totaled 149 tackles and eight sacks.
  • The Seahawks cut quarterback Skyler Howard and fullback Brandon Cottom and signed fullback Kyle Coleman and wide receiver Speedy Noil, per a team announcement. Noil entered the draft early out of Texas A&M. He caught just 42 passes combined the past two seasons.
  • Giants signed wide receiver Kevin Snead, a Carson-Newman product, after his tryout. Snead, a former track star, reportedly ran a sub-4.3-second 40-yard-dash. To make room, the team waived offensive lineman Martin Wallace.
  • The Lions have signed free agent offensive tackle Arturo Uzdavinis and waived tackle Pierce Burton.
  • The Vikings signed guard Freddie Tagaloa after a successful rookie minicamp tryout, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Cardinals signed wide receiver Larry Clark.