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Volume 24 No. 217
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NFL Franchise Notes: O'Brien Likely To Stay With Texans After Meeting With McNairs

In Houston, John McClain writes he expects Texans coach Bill O'Brien to "sign a contract extension after extensive meetings" with Owner Bob McNair and Vice Chair & COO Cal McNair. With GM Rick Smith on leave, hiring someone who can "forge a positive working relationship with O'Brien is essential for the McNairs and their vision of returning the Texans to the playoffs next season." Hiring a GM and extending O'Brien's deal are Bob McNair's "top priorities." After a new GM is hired, he will "answer to the McNairs." They are using Korn Ferry, which they employed in '14 when hiring O'Brien (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/3).

KEY OFFSEASON FOR CARDS: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes Cardinals President Michael Bidwill's "ascending reputation will be put to the test" as the team transitions into a "pivotal offseason" following the retirement of coach Bruce Arians and longtime QB Carson Palmer. As GM Steve Keim "searches for the next franchise quarterback," Bidwill needs to "recruit his next head coach and impact leader." The smartest candidates will "jump at the chance to work for an owner who is demanding but fair." Bidwill will "never be the type to disappear into the periphery, ceding all power to a head coach who demands autonomy." But he is "smart enough not to cross the line into full-blown meddling" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/3).

HOME IMPROVEMENT: In Chicago, Rick Telander writes the Bears this offseason "have a chance to improve mightily or become Browns-like." The only thing that "continues unfettered and unstoppable is the McCaskey family train," with President & CEO Ted Phillips "waving his engineer's cap out of the engine window." The Bears as the new Browns is a "dangerous concept on many levels" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/3). Also in Chicago, Bob LeGere wrote it is easy to believe that Bears GM Ryan Pace "will do his due diligence and make an informed choice" for the team's new coach. But it "strains the brain trying to come up with anything" that Chair George McCaskey and Phillips "bring to the table." The final decision "will be Pace's, but what guarantees that his next hire will be better than the last?" (DAILYHERALD.com, 1/2).