There were times during the final month of the season that Bill O'Brien appeared to have a tenuous hold on his job. His name was often mentioned among those who could be looking for work by the first of the year. But on the last day of the regular-season, the Houston Chronicle's John McClain reported that "O'Brien will definitely return" while the search for a new general manager would take place outside the organization.
On Saturday, the Texans extended O'Brien's contract, hired Brian Gaine as general manager and now both men are working on new five-year deals.
"Bill O'Brien has been a tremendous leader for us these last four years and we believe in his vision for the team moving forward," owner Bob McNair said in a statement. "Bill is a terrific teacher that the players respect. We have a lot of trust in him to build a unified, championship culture and we're thrilled to have him as our head coach into the future."
"Brian is an incredibly smart, hardworking individual that understands the importance of good communication," McNair said in his statement. "We couldn't be more excited about naming him our new general manager."
O'Brien made clear in his end-of-season press conference that the next general manager needed to be "aligned philosophically on what type of team" he was trying to build. Gaine, who was hired by Smith and worked in the front office from 2014-2016, fits that description.
"He has a great knowledge of both the pro and college side of things," O'Brien said of Gaine. "I hold Brian in high regard."
The Texans are 31-33 under O'Brien, and 1-2 in the postseason. Despite a 4-12 record in 2017, Houston will be considered favorites to win the AFC South because of Deshaun Watson, their franchise quarterback whose rookie season was cut short after an ACL injury.