The Houston Texans fired executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby on Monday morning, ending his 3½-year run with the franchise, according to multiple reports.
Easterby joined Houston in 2019, working alongside former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien. He took on a greater role when O’Brien was fired after an 0-4 start to the 2020 season, but general manager Nick Caserio took control of the roster after being hired in 2021.
“You never talk about things when things aren’t official,” first-year Texans coach Lovie Smith said of the Easterby reports. “After things become official, we can talk about all the things you’d like to talk about now.”
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The Texans made three franchise-altering trades during Easterby’s tenure, two stripping the organization of valuable draft capital before last spring’s reset amid the parting with disgraced quarterback Deshaun Watson. A playoff team four times under O’Brien between 2015 and 2019, Houston went 4-12 in 2020 and 4-13 in 2021.
The Texans traded Watson, who no longer wanted to play for owner Cal McNair, to the Cleveland Browns earlier this year in exchange for a bounty of draft picks that will aid Caserio during Houston’s rebuilding phase. Watson was suspended for the first 11 games of this season and fined $5 million after being accused of sexual misconduct and sued by dozens of women related to his conduct in massage sessions while in Houston. Watson has settled 23 of 25 lawsuits against him, with the most recent being filed Oct. 13.
The Texans already used one of three first-round picks they received from the Watson trade in the 2022 draft. Houston has an additional first-round pick in 2023 and 2024, plus two additional mid-round selections.
However, the Texans’ slide prior to the Watson controversy was largely initiated by a pair of deals for which O’Brien was widely panned. The team surrendered two first-rounders and a second as part of a package for left tackle Laremy Tunsil in 2019 and didn’t get more than a Round 2 pick as part of an exchange for All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins a year later. The Cardinals also saddled Houston with expensive and underperforming back David Johnson in that deal.
At his request, the Texans also released superstar defensive end J.J. Watt, perhaps their most important franchise figure, in 2021.
Houston also hired two coaches since firing O’Brien in 2020, giving David Culley only one season last year, before hiring Smith earlier this year.
Perhaps just as scathing an element during Easterby’s time was a critical report published by Sports Illustrated in 2020. It shed doubt on his credentials for the post in Houston, including the veracity of his résumé, while exploring the influence he seemed to carry with McNair and why he was granted involvement in the Texans’ football operations. Prior to his hiring in Houston, Easterby typically filled roles like character coach or team chaplain, holding both posts with the New England Patriots between 2013 and 2018.
Houston’s draft assets – along with young players like quarterback Davis Mills, running back Dameon Pierce and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr – could make the football operations job enticing for candidates around the league.
The Texans, who had a bye in Week 6, are 1-3-1 this season.