Longtime Texans general manager Rick Smith left the team following the 2017 season after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, but would consider a return to the NFL in 2020 should the right opportunities emerge, sources said.

Smith was well-regarded throughout the league and within the league office, and left the Texans with mega-stars like Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt on the roster. He announced in January of 2018 that he was leaving the team indefinitely at that time, taking an absence of at least one season. He has been tending to his family for the past two years but is now open to a return to running a franchise, with certain teams and geographies perhaps making more sense than others.

Regardless, Smith is at a point now where he could return to regular duties overseeing a roster and franchise, sources said, and his resume could be very appealing at a time when there are fewer hot candidates than in some years past and when upwards of a half-dozen teams are expected to at least consider major front office changes.

Smith entered the NFL in 1996 with the Broncos as a coach -- he was a part of two Super Bowl winning teams in that capacity -- and by 2000 was their director of pro personnel. He was named the Texans general manager in 2006, becoming the youngest person in the NFL to hold the job at that time (36) and later assumed the title of executive vice president of football operations.

Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has accrued significant personnel control since Smith took his leave of absence, and the Texans still have heavy interest in longtime Patriots executive Nick Caserio joining them as GM in 2020, league sources said.

Smith would not be returning to the Texans in any capacity, but his affable personality and strong evaluating record should have him under consideration for several openings.