Monti Ossenfort

Caserio Fallout: Pats, Texans, Kraft, Staff

The complex process that has taken shape since the Texans fired Brian Gaine still leaves the franchise without a GM, and, as of now at least, it looks like the Patriots will need to prepare for a front office shakeup in 2020.

Although the Texans are no longer pursuing top GM target Nick Caserio, and the Patriots have since dropped the tampering charges, the longtime Pats player personnel director is reportedly prepared to leave New England after his contract expires in 2020. The Texans are considering going without a GM this year, likely in hopes of landing Caserio next year, but they obviously run the risk of another potentially GM-needy team swooping in for the long-coveted executive.

Caserio may not be the only Pats exec on the market. Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort‘s contract is believed to be up after this year as well, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The Patriots made the unusual move to block Ossenfort from what would have been a major promotion last year, when the Texans requested to meet with both he and Caserio for the GM job that went to Gaine. Ossenfort has been with the Patriots for 15 years, having served in his current position for five.

The report about Caserio’s Patriots contract containing language that forbids him from meeting with another team, due to a raise the team gave him at some point, appears to be accurate. Not only does Caserio’s contract have this clause, but the Patriots offered a similar deal to members of their scouting department to try to keep the group intact, Breer adds. The Texans opted not to challenge this clause and thus take on Robert Kraft.

Another possible reason for the Patriots blocking Caserio from becoming the Texans’ GM: executive VP Jack Easterby‘s situation. Easterby left the Patriots to take a job with the Texans earlier this year and did so in part because Kraft was charged in the Florida prostitution sting, Breer reports. The ex-pastor and former Patriots character coach has become a key organizational voice early in his Houston tenure. Both he and Bill O’Brien have extensive Caserio ties.

The Texans have not conducted any GM interviews since the Caserio mess began, and Breer expects O’Brien to spend a year essentially running the team. Player personnel director Matt Bazirgan and college scouting director James Liipfert join Easterby as key Texans executives whose roles would stand to grow in a GM-less year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans’ GM Search

The Texans have requested permission to interview Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio for their vacant GM job, but as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, the team has not requested an interview with New England director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort. Houston was interested in speaking with Caserio and Ossenfort in connection with its GM job last year, but as of right now, the club seems to be focusing its efforts on Caserio.

As we learned yesterday, the Patriots can deny the Texans’ request to interview Caserio (or any other exec) if the Houston job does not entail sufficient decision-making authority. And assuming Caserio is interested enough in the Texans’ gig to have an interview, and assuming New England is intent on keeping its present front office intact, the Patriots could argue that the position would not offer such authority. If there is a disagreement between the two clubs, it would be up to commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee to resolve the matter.

The league could either allow Caserio to leave New England if he so chooses, require him to stay, or compel the Texans to compensate the Patriots in some fashion if they elect to hire Caserio. Presumably, we will have word on the Pats’ decision soon, which will add a great deal of clarity to this situation.

The Texans have already interviewed Ray Farmer and plan to interview Martin Mayhew for the GM position. It is unclear who their fallback plan is if they cannot land Caserio.

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Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Latest On Texans’ GM Search, Nick Caserio The Favorite?

The Texans’ GM search is starting to heat up. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle brings us a lengthy list of possible candidates that includes Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort, former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, and former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli.

That’s in addition to former Browns GM Ray Farmer, who will apparently be the first to interview with the team. But just because Farmer is up first doesn’t mean he’s the top option. Caserio is “believed to be the leading candidate” for the job, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link).

As soon as the Texans fired Brian Gaine, we heard rumblings that they would again pursue Caserio in their search. When the Texans were looking to fill their GM vacancy last offseason they requested to interview both Caserio and Ossenfort, but were denied by the Patriots. It’s unclear what would’ve changed, but people seem to think they’d have a good shot at them this time around.

Further, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com examines what the situation will look like after a GM is hired. As he points out, this will go one of two ways. Either the Texans will hire another Bill O’Brien guy like they did last time, or they’ll hire an outside candidate with no connection to O’Brien, which means they could be looking for a new head coach after the season as well.

We heard on Friday that Texans exec Jack Easterby, who was recently appointed to a prominent position, will be playing a large role in the search. It was reported that Easterby is close friends with Caserio, so this latest development makes a lot of sense. The other names we’ve already seen mentioned, but this is the first we’ve heard of McKenzie as a potential candidate. After losing a power struggle with Jon Gruden in Oakland, McKenzie recently signed on with the Dolphins’ front office.

It’ll be interesting to see whether they let O’Brien run the hiring process, and that will go a long way toward showing us whether O’Brien is on the hot seat entering 2019. Caserio is apparently close with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and his presence is what has convinced McDaniels to stay in New England in the past, so many have speculated they’ll be paired together as an eventual coach/GM combo if Caserio ever leaves the Pats.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Deny Texans’ Request To Interview Nick Caserio, Monti Ossenfort

In their efforts to fill their GM vacancy, the Texans asked to interview top Patriots executives Nick Caserio (director of player personnel) and Monti Ossenfort (director of college scouting). However, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports, New England denied that request.

Nick Caserio (vertical)

But, Schefter goes on to say that the Patriots’ refusal does not necessarily bring the matter to a close. The ESPN scribe writes that Caserio and Ossenfort still might be able to interview for the Texans job after the Patriots’ season ends, thanks to the league’s newly-relaxed rules that govern hiring executives from other clubs. In past years, teams could block their executives from interviewing elsewhere by saying that the individual had final say on the 53-man roster. Now, the league’s anti-tampering policy provides that final authority regarding the composition of the 53-man roster will not prevent someone from accepting a position with another team.

Interestingly, the Patriots did permit Caserio to interview with the 49ers for their GM job last offseason, and as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe observes (Twitter link), they allowed him to interview with the division-rival Dolphins two seasons ago, so their refusal represents a notable change in procedure. But given that New England is about to lose defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to head coaching positions with other teams, perhaps the Pats are simply trying to maintain some degree of continuity.

If Houston is willing to wait, they could still get a crack at Caserio and Ossenfort. In the meantime, the Texans are looking at Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst and Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans’ GM Search

The Texans’ GM search is just getting underway, but we’re already getting an idea of the names that could be in play for the job. External candidates expected to receive interest include Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort of the Patriots, Brian Gaine of the Bills, and Brian Gutekunst of the Packers (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Nick Caserio (vertical)

[RELATED: Browns Ask To Talk With Texans’ Sean Ryan]

Caserio is among this year’s top candidates for a GM position. While he rejected overtures from other teams before, a prime opportunity like the one in Houston could be the one to get him to leave New England. Some have speculated that he could wind up as a package deal with Josh McDaniels as head coach, but it sounds like Bill O’Brien will be retained by the Texans.

The Texans are on the hunt for a new GM after Rick Smith announced he would be taking a leave of absence to care for his wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. When Smith does return to the team, he’ll retain his Executive Vice President title, but he indicated that he will not be in charge of football decisions.

In whatever role that is, I am going to maintain Executive Vice President title. If we hire a GM and have a guy to run the personnel, then we’ll do that,” Smith said. “So, again, it’s a fluid process, but I am absolutely intend on coming back, I will maintain that at least the Executive Vice President title and if Mr. McNair feels like he wants to hire a general manager, then he will hire a general manager and that will be just fine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Palmer, Edwards Jr., Trubisky

Which quarterbacks will be available this offseason? NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal has you covered. Besides listing the impending free agents (including Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins), the writer also takes a look at several trade and release candidates.

The writer’s list of potential trade candidates is led by Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, while Tony Romo (Cowboys), Tyrod Taylor (Bills), and A.J. McCarron (Bengals) also earn mentions. Meanwhile, Rosenthal’s release candidates include Jay Cutler (Bears), Colin Kaepernick (49ers), Robert Griffin III (Browns), and Nick Foles (Chiefs).

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has struggled for stretches this season, but the veteran doesn’t sound like he’s considering retirement. “Haven’t thought about next year but I expect to play in 2017,” the 36-year-old said today (via Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 on Twitter).
  • UNC QB Mitch Trubisky still hasn’t decided whether he’ll forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). Trubisky has had a breakout campaign, compiling 3,468 yards, 28 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
  • Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said he had a “very solid workout” yesterday, and Caplan reports (via Twitter) that the second-year player could make his season debut next week. Edwards hasn’t played since injuring his hip during the preseason.
  • As organization’s begin to look at potential general manager candidates for next season, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss says that Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort could be pursued. Reiss cites the success of four current NFL general managers who “cut their teeth” in New England: Bob Quinn (Lions,) Jon Robinson (Titans), Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons), and Jason Licht (Buccaneers).