The Houston Texans have retained the services of a professional search firm to help find Rick Smith's replacement as the team's general manager.

Smith is stepping away on an indefinite leave of absence to help his wife battle cancer and will miss at least the 2018 NFL season.

In his emotional New Year's Day address to the press, Smith indicated he would be amenable to giving up GM duties in the long-term but will not surrender his title of vice president of football operations.

Brian Gaine is the only candidate with direct ties to the Texans, but his are quite strong. He worked under Smith in the team's personnel department for three seasons before moving onto the Bills last winter.