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The Texans are tapping David Culley to become their next head coach, according to reports, a surprising hire that will come with the challenge of repairing Houston’s fractured relationship with franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Culley, a 65-year-old football lifer, spent the last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, serving as the assistant head coach, passing coordinator and wide receivers coach, as part of a 27-year assistant coaching journey throughout the NFL.
Despite his experience, Culley, who is black, was not considered a candidate for a head-coaching position.
Culley will become the third active black coach, joining Miami’s Brian Flores and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.
The NFL has long been criticized for not having many black coaches, when a majority of its players are black. In November the league passed a resolution to incentivize teams to develop and hire minority candidates for head coaching and general manager positions.
Baltimore will receive two third-round compensatory picks as a result of Culley being hired by Houston.
In addition to turning around a franchise that finished 4-12 after firing head coach/GM Bill O’Brien last season, Culley will be tasked with keeping Watson in Houston.
“I do believe that David Culley would be a tremendous hire for any team; maybe, especially, the Texans with Deshaun Watson,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said before the Ravens lost in the AFC divisional round.
Watson reportedly wants to be traded because he was unhappy over not having input on the organization’s offseason hires.
The Texans hired longtime Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio as their general manager before hiring Culley.
A report over the weekend said Watson wanted out regardless of who Houston hired.
Watson before the season agreed to a four-year, $156 million extension with the Texans, with $110 million guaranteed and a no-trade clause.
The 25-year-old reportedly has his eyes on the Jets. Watson led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards this season, with 33 touchdown passes and a career-low seven interceptions.
Culley, who has never worked as an NFL offensive or defensive coordinator, considered by some a prerequisite to becoming a head coach, has also spent time with the Eagles, Steelers, Chiefs, Bills and Buccaneers.
A Tennessee native, Culley joined Tampa Bay in 1994 after 16 years as an assistant with various colleges.
The Ravens’ passing offense under Culley, which featured another star quarterback in Lamar Jackson, finished last in the NFL this season, though Baltimore’s offense largely revolves around the ground game.
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