Some noteworthy news that got lost in the shuffle of Wild Card weekend and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ early exit from the postseason. The Steelers nearly lost more than Sunday’s game to the Browns. According to multiple reports, they almost lost one of their top front office members. The only thing that saved them, apparently, was a power hungry man in Houston.
Multiple reports say Steelers’ VP of Football and Business Administration Omar Khan, better known as “the cap guy,” was in line to become the next GM of the Houston Texans. At the least, after a search firm came up with a list of five names, it came down to Khan or ESPN’s Louis Riddick as finalists for the job.
One report says Khan was in contract negotiations to become the Texans’ general manager. But those talks broke down at the last minute as Texans’ VP Jack Easterby turned strongman and convinced Houston owner Cal McNair to ignore the search firm’s list and hire New England’s (and Easterby’s friend) Nick Caserio.
Here’s what ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote yesterday.
“Had the Houston Texans stayed the course and followed the recommendation of the search firm Korn Ferry, they likely would have hired Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan as their next general manager, league sources told ESPN.
Khan and ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Louis Riddick, who are both minority candidates, were the two finalists before Texans owner Cal McNair changed his mind, ignored the recommendation of the search firm he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do weeks of work and hired former New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, sources said.”
PFT’s Mike Florio writes Easterby made an eleventh hour move to shift the focus to Caserio, who the team attempted to hire but were blocked in 2019.
“The prevailing story in league circles is that, as the team was closing in on hiring one of the Korn Ferry finalists, Easterby went to owner Cal McNair’s house and talked him into hiring Caserio.”
Khan would’ve been a devastating loss for the Steelers. They’re in cap hell more than any other year with the cap number, at best, staying stagnant due to the COVID pandemic. Had Khan left, the Steelers wouldn’t have had a sound in-house option. Last year, the team lost Khan’s assistant Samir Suleiman who took a job with the Carolina Panthers (and is interviewing to be their next GM). Pittsburgh did hire Cole Marcoux last offseason but he was unlikely to step into such a prominent role with the team as Khan’s replacement.
On a person level, it’s disappointing for Khan. He’s been close to becoming a GM several times over the last 10-12 years with the Seahawks, Jets, and now Texans. Had Easterby not intervened, odds are good Khan would’ve been the Texans’ pick.
Perhaps Khan will finally get the opportunity in the near future; his value in navigating the financial side of things means more than ever. Pittsburgh better have a plan to replace him.