HOUSTON –Former interim general manager Jack Easterby is no longer working for the Texans, effective immediately, according to multiple league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Hired in 2019 as executive vice president of team development, the former New England Patriots character coach had been promoted to executive vice president of football operations since arriving in Houston. Now Easterby, 39, is out of work with the AFC South franchise.
“It was just about time,” a source said. “No knocks on Jack at all. He’s done a lot of really good things in getting a lot of the programs in place, but the organization has reached a point where they have a lot of great people to work on those programs in the behind the scenes to help the players and help the coaches. It’s not like a huge controversy. These things happen in the NFL. Jack will have a lot of great opportunities in the future.
The groundwork for the decision was made several months ago as the organization shifted its leadership more and more towards a partnership between general manager Nick Caserio and coach Lovie Smith, sources say.
Easterby had been a polarizing figure, drawing widespread criticism locally and nationally. He’s also had his share of strong relationships in the building with staff and players, including veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and several other players.
Among the things that fell under Easterby’s responsibilities; team development, which is overseen by Dylan Thompson, football technology, analytics, sports science, overseeing the football operations budget and development of all operations system curricula soccer.
The Texans then made it official, announcing the move in a statement from Texans President and CEO Cal McNair.
“I met with executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby and we mutually agreed to go our separate ways,” McNair said. “For the remainder of the season from now on, his responsibilities will be taken up by our football operations staff. We recognize Jack’s positive contributions and wish him and his family all the best for the future.
One of Easterby’s main initiatives was sports science involving rest, recovery, and training of players to achieve peak performance. He was heavily involved in the analysis. He had moved on to a more administrative behind-the-scenes role that did not involve him making personnel decisions. Easterby has also worked on contract restructuring in recent years and negotiations to help manage the salary cap, but that financial role has also passed to Caserio and Andrew Brown.
“My family and I are grateful for our time in Houston,” Easterby said in a statement. “We appreciate the opportunities the McNair family has given us and wish the organization continued success.”
Easterby was a proponent of interviewing and considering former NFL quarterback Josh McCown for the head coaching job which went to Smith in a promotion to defensive coordinator after McCown received strong consideration for the post when he had only coached at the secondary level. The idea of potentially hiring McCown was seen as an extremely controversial idea that was ultimately shot down by CEO and President Cal McNair.
“It’s really a question for the ownership right now and maybe for the organization to talk about later,” Smith said when asked about his reaction to Easterby’s firing. “Right now I’m here to talk about the football part. I’m well aware of what’s going on with that right now. I hope you understand that when things are official, you never talk about anything until it’s official. As I said earlier, there will be information coming out a bit later. Once things are official, we can talk about all the things you like to talk about right now. I’m sure you also understand my point of view.
Easterby, who has had a close relationship with general manager Nick Caserio since their split time with the New England Patriots, worked closely with former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien before O’Brien was dismissed. This management partnership was responsible for some lopsided trades and contracts, including the controversial DeAndre Hopkins trade and other deals, including Whitney Mercilus’ $54 million deal.
Easterby helped negotiate Caserio’s six-year contract which averages $6 million a year.
After an 0-4 start in 2020, Easterby became interim general manager. Easterby, a former team chaplain and character coach for the Kansas City Chiefs who also worked for the University of South Carolina and is the founder of the Greatest Champion Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization, didn’t execute many major moves the rest of this season as he exercised a cautious approach and avoided lopsided trades, including a low-ball offer from the Green Bay Packers for wide receiver Will Fuller.
After that season, Easterby, a South Carolina native who was captain of the Newberry College basketball and golf teams, helped guide the search for a new head coach and general manager.
“My relationship with Jack was good, like everyone else in the organization,” Smith said. “My relationship with Jack has been great. He’s one of the first guys I had a chance to talk to before coming here.
Ultimately, the Texans hired Caserio and he worked with Easterby for the past two years before the organization moved on Monday after a furlough.
The Texans are off to a 1-3-1 start.
“Helping to bring Nick to Houston is going to be Jack’s greatest legacy, I think,” a source said. “He pushed hard and sold hard to help get there, and they hired well. Nick was a great recruit.
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com.
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