One year ago, the New England Patriots turned down a request from the Houston Texans to interview director of player personnel Nick Caserio. 12 months later, the Texans want to talk to Caserio again and the Patriots may have to relent.
According to the Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain, the Texans have filed a formal request to interview Caserio for their vacant general manager opening and are waiting for a response from the Patriots. Caserio, 43, is Houston’s top choice for the position, which was vacated when the team fired Brian Gaine.
Gaine was in the second year of a five-year contract, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for a general manager to execute his vision. But ownership apparently didn’t believe Gaine was doing a good enough job. More specifically, executives felt that his plan wasn’t moving fast enough to turn the Texans into a Super Bowl contender coming off head coach Bill O’Brien’s best season in Houston.
O’Brien, whose team went 11-5 last year, appears to have won a power struggle for personnel control, which is a major factor in the Texans’ pursuit of Caserio. The two worked together closely on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in New England from 2007 through 2011.
Caserio served as the Patriots’ quarterback coach (during the 2007 undefeated regular season) before moving to the front office, though he still assisted offensive coaches with game preparation. O’Brien progressed from offensive assistant to wide receivers coach before coaching quarterbacks and eventually becoming offensive coordinator.
The connections between Caserio and the Texans don’t end there. Jack Easterby, Houston’s current vice president of player development, was the team development director and character coach in New England until leaving the Patriots in the wake of owner Robert Kraft facing charges of soliciting prostitution.
Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer reports that O’Brien wanted Easterby badly, enough to compel the Texans to outbid the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins to hire him. Giving Easterby an executive vice president title factored heavily into that.
Furthermore, according to Breer, the Patriots were able to refuse giving the Texans permission to talk to Caserio last year because the team’s season was still being played at the time. Obviously, that’s not the case in early June. Additionally, New England can’t prevent Caserio from leaving because a GM position would be viewed as a promotion, not a lateral move.
Caserio has been the Patriots’ director of player personnel since 2008, when Scott Pioli left to become the Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager. However, he’s been with New England since 2001, joining the organization as an offensive assistant. His relationship with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels goes back to their college days at John Carroll University, where Caserio was the quarterback and McDaniels was a wide receiver. That connection pulled Caserio away from finance, where he was a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.
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In addition to working with the offensive coaching staff, Caserio was also a scout for the team before moving into the personnel department. Before this year’s NFL Draft, Belichick said Caserio “literally sees every player” among NFL rosters and draft prospects while also taking part in every coaching meeting. Very few, if any, have experience on both the personnel and coaching sides in an NFL organization.
However, Caserio doesn’t have final say over personnel with the Patriots. Bill Belichick holds that power in New England. It appears that Caserio would yield that authority to O’Brien in Houston as well, but holding a general manager position is considered more prestigious in the NFL than a personnel director.
The Texans have interviewed two other candidates for their general manager opening, former Browns GM Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew, who held that position with the Lions.