Bill O’Brien is clearly in over his head as a general manager, and the Houston Texans need to fire him before he does any more damage.
Bill O’Brien became the de facto general manager of the Houston Texans basically a year ago, and he now has the title. On Thursday he made another notable and puzzling move, acquiring wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams for a second-round pick (No. 57 overall) in this year’s draft.
O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and a fourth-round pick this year to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick this year. The Texans took on Johnson’s bloated contract, but at least O’Brien didn’t double down on the bad move by trading the second-round pick he got for Hopkins (No. 40 overall) to the Rams for Cooks.
Before last season, O’Brien sent two first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills. Tunsil is a fine left tackle, but now he’s in line for a new contract and wants to be the NFL’s highest paid lineman. With the draft pick capital that was given up to get him, Tunsil has fantastic leverage.
The Texans also traded franchise tagged defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks just before the 2019 season started. Not only was the return not great (linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo, linebacker Jacob Martin and a third-round pick), Houston also covered $7 million of Clowney’s salary for last season.
Via smaller trades that netted cornerback Gareon Conley from the Raiders and running back Carlos Hyde from the Chiefs, the Texans parted with a third-round pick in the upcoming draft and guard Martinas Rankin.
ESPN’s Field Yates has summed up O’Brien’s run as general manager since Aug. 31 via a nice list.
In terms of pure volume, O’Brien has added more than he has given up in his wheeling and dealing as general manager. But has given up the two best players in the list of transactions, given up four draft picks within the first two rounds of the next two drafts (four picks in this year’s draft; one in each round).
And if that’s not enough, O’Brien has taken on bad contracts for two players who look to be in some decline (Johnson and Cooks) while crying wolf that Hopkins wanted a raise–with three years left on his contract. Tunsil deserves to be paid, but O’Brien also invited that obligation as the Texans also look ahead to giving quarterback Deshaun Watson a big contract soon.
The set of trades O’Brien has made has only two possible explanations. Either he is purely incompetent as he tries to juggle duel duties, which is the prevailing opinion, or he’s trying to get fired.
O’Brien’s record as the Texans’ head coach is good not great, with a 52-44 mark over six seasons and a 2-4 playoff record. If Watson can’t carry the roster O’Brien the GM has actively depleted of talent and draft pick reinforcements again this year, the occasional hot seat on O’Brien the head coach will turn into a firing quickly after the season ends. If it’s not too late to fire him now…which it is…probably.