Had the Houston Texans stayed the course and followed the recommendation of the search firm Korn Ferry, they likely would have hired Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan as their next general manager, league sources told ESPN.
Khan and ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Louis Riddick, who are both minority candidates, were the two finalists before Texans owner Cal McNair changed his mind, ignored the recommendation of the search firm he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do weeks of work and hired former New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, sources said.
Multiple people in the Texans organization, including quarterback Deshaun Watson, were upset with how Houston's search took a sudden and unexpected turn, hiring a man that Korn Ferry did not include on its list of candidates.
Watson is said to be furious over the decision, and others are as well, with some saying that there will be employees who wind up leaving the organization during the offseason.
The quarterback is on vacation, and McNair said he expects to speak with Watson once he returns. But how that will go, if it happens, remains uncertain.
Watson had been assured by McNair that he would be involved in the process to hire a new coach and general manager and kept in the loop on the progress in those searches, but that didn't happen.
Some around the league believe that Watson could opt to withhold his services this season. Watson has not commented on that option, but others insist it will be in play.
One person who knows Watson said this week that, after the Texans traded Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last offseason, the quarterback's anger level was "a 2. ... This time, it's a 10."