A year after the Texans were making headlines during the first week of the playoffs because they were, you know, playing, they’re making even more headlines this year by, you know, not playing.
The hiring of Nick Caserio to be the team’s new General Manager lit the fuse on a cherry bomb of dysfunction for the Texans, reinforcing the perception/reality that executive V.P. of football operations Jack Easterby is Littlefinger (if you’re a GOT fan) or Gríma Wormtongue (if LOTR is your bag).
The Texans paid Korn Ferry somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million (word is that it was $600,000) to line up finalists for the job. Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported that the five selected by Korn Ferry were Texans director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan, Seahawks V.P. of player personnel Trent Kirchner, Steelers V.P. of football and business administration Omar Khan, Louis Riddick, and Ravens director of football research Scott Cohen.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Khan would have gotten the job, if the Texans hadn’t unexpectedly gone off the board to hire Caserio. (Schefter also mentions that his ESPN colleague Louis Riddick was the next choice after Khan, possibly for internal peacekeeping purposes.)
Schefter adds that “multiple people” within the organization, including quarterback Deshaun Watson, were upset by the decision to ignore Korn Ferry’s work and to hire Caserio. Team president Jamey Rootes, though not mentioned by name in Schefter’s story, also is believed to be extremely upset that the work done by Korn Ferry, with Rootes’ involvement, was thrown overboard. Some believe that it’s just a matter of time before Rootes leaves the Texans; at least one person believes that Rootes already has tried to resign, but that Rootes was persuaded to wait in order to avoid further reinforcement of the perception/reality of disarray within the franchise.
Frankly, the disarray traces exclusively to Easterby. He was losing power and influence. Some believed he could end up being fired. The prevailing story in league circles is that, as the team was closing in on hiring one of the Korn Ferry finalists, Easterby went to owner Cal McNair’s house and talked him into hiring Caserio.
Another source said that agent Bob LaMonte, who represents both Easterby and Caserio, made a well-timed phone call to McNair, explaining that Caserio was poised to become the G.M. of the Panthers, and that Caserio would take Easterby with him. (It doesn’t matter if it was true that Caserio was going to the Panthers; what matters is whether McNair believed it.)
The end result is that things have gotten much worse for the Texans, and the Texans have done nothing to change the narrative or to send a message that contradicts rumors that are becoming accepted (in the absence of contrary information) as fact. Easterby, who has been hiding from the media ever since legitimate questions were raised about the legitimacy of his qualifications and background, is saying nothing externally.
Internally, Easterby has managed to mesmerize his audience of one. A week after it appeared that Cal McNair was ready to follow a different path, he seems to be firmly under Easterby’s spell. Until that spell is broken, the Texans will have a hard time changing the narrative and/or repairing the relationship with Deshaun Watson.
UPDATE 3:00 p.m. ET: Per a league source, the Texans had offered Khan the job and were negotiating a contract with him when the process, at the behest of Easterby, suddenly pivoted to Caserio.