Rick Smith taking leave of absence from Texans for wife's breast cancer

The Texans were a must-see with Deshaun Watson as their quarterback

The news came after the Texans completed a 4-12 campaign in Smith's 12th season as general manager.

"Texans' GM Rick Smith is taking an extended leave of absence to take care of his wife, Tiffany, who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer, per a team source", Schefter reported.

However, McNair may feel inclined to choose between O'Brien and Smith if the team owner believes the longstanding issues between the two can not be resolved. Should McNair decide to punt and put off the decision until O'Brien's contract expires next year, sources say the Texans could be maintaining a hard work environment. This was an extremely hard decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field.

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The Houston Texans will likely retain Bill O'Brien as head coach in 2018.

O'Brien and Smith had job-related issues in the past, but they continued to work together.

It is unclear at this point whether O'Brien will have a greater say in personnel decisions in Smith's absence. But mitigating factors are the season-ending injuries that led to the loss of key players like defensive end J.J. Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had emerged as a strong candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during an early November practice. But later picks haven't panned out as well and his free-agent signings have been mixed.

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O'Brien has one season remaining on a five-year deal he signed when he became the Texans' coach in 2014.

Jimmy Raye III, the team's vice president of football operations/assistant general manager who finished his first season with the Texans.

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