Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith announced on Sunday that he is taking an immediate leave of absence to care for his wife, Tiffany, as she battles breast cancer.
However, McNair may feel inclined to choose between O'Brien and Smith if the team owner believes the longstanding issues between the two can not be resolved.More news: Sister of Eric Garner, Erika, dies after heart attack
Last week, O'Brien said he would be willing to coach the final season without signing a contract extension and said earlier this month that he "will never quit as head football coach of the Houston Texans".
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". 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.
Smith's decision to step away comes amid reports of discord with head coach Bill O'Brien. They would like to have the position filled this week, according to persons familiar with the situation.More news: Egypt says 10 killed in attack outside Cairo church
"I don't have any comment on that", O'Brien said on Sunday.
O'Brien has one season remaining on a five-year deal he signed when he became the Texans' coach in 2014. He's had three 9-7 seasons and won two AFC South titles, but the Texans have collapsed to 4-11 this year after star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his ACL.
Smith, in addition to trading up to draft Watson, has a solid record of first-round picks, including Watt, linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. If Gaine ends up as the Texans' next GM, we wouldn't expect Smith back at any point.More news: Two arrested for grisly family murder
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