Of the many bizarre twists and turns the Texans have taken over the past eight days, perhaps the most bizarre is this: The team won’t have a General Manager in 2019.
So, basically, Brian Gaine was fired (and will be paid), and no one will take his place.
The end result raises plenty of questions, beginning with the most obvious: Why?
Some in league circles think the explanation is simple. The belief is that the Texans will bide their time and hire Patriots director of player personnel Caserio after the 2019 season ends, utilizing a cleaner procedure that avoids potential claims that the Texans spoke prematurely with Caserio or his agent. (Surprisingly, or not, Caserio and Texans executive Jack Easterby are both represented by Bob Lamonte.)
Unburdened by proof of actual tampering, the Texans could then attempt to hire Caserio, challenging the arguably unenforceable clause preventing Caserio from leaving his non-G.M. job for a true G.M. job.
Next question: Who will perform the G.M. duties without a G.M.?
The current management structure, as noted by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, consists of coach Bill O’Brien, executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, senior vice president Chris Olsen (who handles the salary cap and contract negotiations), and team president Jamey Rootes (who runs the business side of the franchise). Presumably, O’Brien will become the top talent evaluator, especially since he already has final say over the 53-man roster. Some suspect that Easterby, whose rise from Chiefs’ team chaplain to the Texans’ executive vice president has been both meteoric and, for many, confusing, will continue to climb the ladder, regardless of whether it’s anchored in bed of quicksand.
Next question: Why did the Texans interview Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew?
This is the one that is creating the biggest buzz in league circles. Given that both men are minority candidates, and in light of the speed with which they were interviewed, some suspect that the Texans hoped to quickly comply with the Rooney Rule via the Farmer interview, to over-comply with the Rooney Rule via Mayhew interview, and then to quickly hire Caserio. By interviewing no other candidates and by hiring neither Farmer nor Mayhew after the pursuit of Caserio imploded, the Farmer and Mayhew interviews look like shams.
Really, when has a team ever interviewed multiple candidates for a key job and decided to hire none of them? The speed with which the Texans decided not to pursue Caserio and not to hire anyone at all leads to a know-it-when-you-see-it conclusion that the Texans fired Gaine to hire Caserio, interviewed Farmer and Mayhew to stay on the right side of the Rooney Rule, made their move to hire Caserio, failed, and punted.
Although there was no Rooney Rule violation (it’s hard to violate the Rooney Rule when the team ultimately hired no one), the inescapable impression is that the Texans wanted Caserio, they interviewed Farmer and Mayhew because the Rooney Rule required it, and then they hired no one when they couldn’t get the only candidate they wanted.
They wanted Caserio. They presumably still do. Perhaps when the Texans finally fill the job, Farmer, Mayhew, and all other candidates (minority or otherwise) will decline to be interviewed.