Texans GM Rick Smith taking extended leave of absence

Report Bill O'Brien'likely to return as Texans coach in 2018

In the statement, Smith said that he is taking the extended leave of absence to tend to his wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Despite finding their franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson and making the playoffs twice since 2015, the Texans could be in the market for a new general manager or coach after their 4-11 season wraps up on Sunday. He determined his wife and three children now needed him more than football.

O'Brien, 31-33 in Houston, is entering the final year of his contract in 2018.

With Smith stepping away, the need for Texans owner Bob McNair to choose between firing one or the other is mitigated. This was an extremely hard decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field. "They put in a lot of time, they put it on the line for us in a pretty violent game and so that means a lot to me when they say that".

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That came after Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported Friday that a source called the relationship between Smith and O'Brien "toxic" and "dysfunctional". The most notable incident was Smith signing QB Brock Osweiler without consulting O'Brien prior to the 2016 season.

This comes after recent reports of a growing rift between coach Bill O'Brien and Smith.

Smith released a statement on Sunday after the Texans' 22-13 Week 17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

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