Texans GM Rick Smith taking leave of absence

The Houston Texans are expected to retain Bill O'Brien as their coach next season, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Smith announced he is taking an extended leave of absence from his duties running the Texans to help his wife as she battles breast cancer. He also thanked team owner Bob McNair and his family for their support as he spends more time with his family. Smith was given a four-year contract extension in July 2016. O'Brien's return keeps offensive continuity in Houston and is good news for Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller. They would like to have the position filled this week, according to persons familiar with the situation.

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

Smith's priorities are understandably and appropriately elsewhere with his wife undergoing treatment, so handing personnel control to someone else may be a sound decision for all involved with the Texans.

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In other words, if Smith drafted or signed players O'Brien didn't want, the coach didn't have to play them. But later picks haven't panned out as well and his free-agent signings have been mixed.

But on Sunday, moments after the Texans' loss to the Indianapolis Colts, came news that served as a reminder, like Harvey did, that some things are bigger than football. If Gaine ends up as the Texans' next GM, we wouldn't expect Smith back at any point.

It has been a season of struggle for the Texans in 2017.

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