The tug-of-war between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans over personnel director Nick Caserio has been resolved. (At least until Caserio’s contract with the Patriots expires after next year’s NFL Draft.)
What remains uncertain is whether or not Caserio does indeed want to leave New England for a general manager position elsewhere. The Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin caused an uproar among media covering the Patriots with a piece that stated Caserio is ready to move on and wanted the Texans’ GM job. Other reporters objected to him presenting that as fact, while Volin insisted the piece shared an opinion.
Yet the real irritation in the Patriots organization might not be directed at Caserio, but rather at Jack Easterby, now the Texans’ vice president of player development. Soon after the Texans backed off their pursuit of Caserio amid tampering charges by the Patriots, Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard shared his opinion that many in Foxborough held a grudge against Easterby for defecting to an AFC competitor.
Bedard has since elaborated on that assertion, quoting sources with the Patriots in a piece for BSJ that supported his judgment.
They are livid,” said one source.
“This totally pissed them off,” said another.
Easterby was New England’s team development director and character coach until this past February. The belief is that he decided to leave when owner Robert Kraft faced charges of soliciting prostitution.
Joining the Patriots in 2013, Easterby was hired by Bill Belichick to help the team deal with the Aaron Hernandez murder conviction. He had worked for former Patriots executive Scott Pioli in Kansas City as team chaplain when linebacker Javon Belcher murdered his girlfriend and committed suicide.
Among players, coaches and executives in Foxborough, many regard Easterby highly, citing counseling and guidance he provided to those in need. But there’s apparently a faction which also perceives Easterby as a corporate climber, an opportunist looking for more authority in an NFL front office. That’s something he wouldn’t get in New England.
It seems petty to resent someone for wanting to better himself professionally and ascend to a higher position. Isn’t that what most workers aspire to do in their chosen profession?
Yet the Patriots’ workplace culture also appears to encourage giving employees added responsibilities without necessarily attaching a new job title or promotion with it. For instance, former linebacker coach Brian Flores calling defensive plays but not being named defensive coordinator. That could also apply to Caserio, who oversees free agency and draft personnel (in addition to helping the offensive coaching staff) yet doesn’t have the general manager title.
What we also don’t know is if Easterby stepped on any heads or burned any bridges on his way out of New England. If not, it certainly appears that helping the Texans to pursue Caserio — perhaps knowing full well how disruptive that would be to the Patriots — has rankled several people in Foxborough. Especially if he approached Caserio about Houston’s GM vacancy at the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring ceremony, as is widely believed.
All of this could lead to some hard feelings when the Patriots and Texans face each other in Houston on Dec. 1.
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