The battle between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans over personnel executive Nick Caserio is over. Apparently, the Texans decided to tap out after the Pats filed tampering charges and are moving on.
The Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain, who initially reported the Texans’ request to interview Caserio, was the first to pass along the news of Houston relenting in its pursuit of the Patriots’ director of player personnel.
According to Texans owner Cal McNair, a clause in Caserio’s contract compelled the team to back off trying to hire him as its general manager.
Where Houston might go next in its GM search isn’t yet known. The team interviewed former NFL general managers Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew before requesting permission from the Patriots to speak with Caserio.
If the Texans really want to be spicy, maybe they’ll ask to interview Monti Ossenfort, the Patriots’ director of college scouting. (Many thought he would’ve been in line to succeed Caserio if the personnel director gig had opened up.) But Ossenfort might have language in his contract similar to what scared Houston away from Caserio.
Without Caserio joining the Texans’ front office as general manager, McClain speculates that Houston may just keep its current management structure in place. Head coach Bill O’Brien will oversee personnel, while former Patriots team development director and character coach Jack Easterby will be in charge of football operations. The team’s salary cap and administrative executives will also remain in their current positions.
(The Patriots’ tampering charge was reportedly based on the contention that Easterby approached Caserio about the Texans’ GM opening during New England’s Super Bowl LIII ring ceremony last week. NFL protocol mandates that a formal interview is requested.)
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It’s a moot point now but if the Texans’ do maintain status quo, that would reinforce the Patriots’ contention that Caserio would’ve been making a lateral move in going to Houston. Bill Belichick has the final call on personnel in New England and O’Brien has that authority in Houston after forcing Brian Gaine out after only 17 months behind the general manager’s desk.
The Texans’ GM position not offering an actual promotion for Caserio is why New England considered denying Houston permission to interview him for the second consecutive year. Houston wanted to speak with Caserio last year, but the Patriots refused access — presumably because they were participating in the playoffs.
While Caserio doesn’t hold the general manager title with the Patriots, he’s a significant figure in the team’s free agency and draft evaluation. Before this year’s NFL Draft, Belichick said Caserio “literally sees every player” that could be available. But Caserio isn’t just a personnel man; he plays an important role with the coaching staff as well. He sits in on all coaching meetings throughout the year, provides coaching during practices and OTAs, helps put together game plans, and gives input to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during games.
Most fans, except those familiar with all aspects of the team, may have had no idea who Caserio was until this week. But he’s been with the Patriots organization since 2001. He was the team’s quarterback coach in 2007, during the 16-0 regular season. And he’s been an important part of the Patriots’ football operations.
That’s presumably why the team didn’t want to lose him to the Texans. Maybe they denied an interview and filed tampering charges to get something in return, like a draft pick. Or maybe Belichick just didn’t want to make it easy for the Texans.
UPDATE: The clause in Caserio’s contract is probably something that should’ve been mentioned in those alleged conversations with Easterby, if they indeed happened.
Still, maybe Belichick and Robert Kraft should consider naming Caserio GM. Just a thought.