Nick Caserio

Texans To Remain Without GM In 2020

Though the Texans failed in their efforts to hire Patriots exec Nick Caserio as their GM this spring, recent reports indicated that Houston — which has operated without a GM in 2019 — would simply hire Caserio in 2020, when his contract with New England is up. However, that no longer appears to be the case.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Texans plan to go without a true GM in 2020 as well. Currently, head coach Bill O’Brien has final say over football operations, though he works closely with vice president of team development Jack Easterby in that regard. Meanwhile, VP of Football Administration, Chris Olsen, handles contracts and salary cap matters, and Matt Bazirgan is in charge of player personnel.

The Texans are sitting at 7-4 and are in the driver’s seat for the AFC South title, so as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests, owner Cal McNair simply may be saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But while the major personnel moves the club has made without a GM — trading two first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills and trading a third-round pick for Duke Johnson, for example — have worked out relatively well in the short term, they will significantly handicap the team down the road. Those moves, combined with the team’s misplay of the Jadeveon Clowney situation, suggest to Florio that the Texans really do need a GM.

Indeed, the club interviewed GM candidates after the Caserio fiasco before electing to move forward with its current power structure. It could be that, given their dearth of high-end draft capital and the outside uncertainty as to how much power Easterby would wield over a new GM, the Texans may have a tough time attracting top candidates, so they will simply forego making the effort for now.

Whoever is calling the shots in 2020 will need to engage in extension talks with star QB Deshaun Watson, which may be tough to navigate with a true GM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Still Expected To Hire Nick Caserio In 2020

One of the biggest storylines of the spring was the Texans’ pursuit of Patriots exec Nick Caserio. Houston wanted Caserio to be its next GM, but the team backed off when the Patriots threatened to file tampering charges against the Texans (although Houston may have prevailed if it attempted to fight the charges). The two teams could have agreed to a trade for Caserio, but ultimately the Texans chose to go through the 2019 season without a GM.

Caserio’s contract with New England expires after the 2020 draft, so while the Texans wouldn’t have him calling the shots in a draft until 2021, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Houston still wants Caserio, and Caserio remains intrigued by Houston’s GM post. Although some Patriots beat writers attempted to downplay Caserio’s frustration with how this year’s events unfolded, Caserio himself didn’t do much to conceal his disappointment.

As such, La Canfora says the odds of an extension between Caserio and the Patriots are beyond slim. Caserio has built a strong reputation around the league after serving as Bill Belichick‘s right-hand man in the personnel department for a long time, and he now wants to take command of his own franchise.

He has rebuffed overtures from other clubs for several years, but he has ties to Texans HC Bill O’Brien and executive VP Jack Easterby, and he apparently believes Houston is set up for long-term success. La Canfora says teams other than the Texans will take a run at Caserio again this offseason, but sources close to Caserio believe he is definitely heading to Houston.

AFC Notes: Caserio, Patriots, Green, Bengals, Griffin, Ravens

Patriots exec Nick Caserio addressed the media today for the first time since the Texans’ ill-fated attempt to make him their general manager. Caserio dodged most of the questions, but while he outwardly expressed commitment to the Patriots, the press “session did nothing to kill the belief that Caserio isn’t happy with the way things played out,” writes Tom Curran of NBC Sports. “I love being here, and right now we’re focused on trying to get the team ready for this season. I’m happy to be here and I love what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Caserio said when asked if he was disappointed with the way things played out.

If he really is unhappy, fortunately he won’t have to wait too long. Caserio’s contract with the Patriots expires after the 2020 draft, and the Texans are widely expected to make another run at him then. Asked whether he wants to run a team some day, he did his best Bill Belichick impression. “I’m not really focused on the hypotheticals. I’m focused on today. Honestly, I’m focused on trying to be the best version of myself each and every day,” he said. It sounds like the Caserio/Patriots partnership is just waiting to end.

Here’s more from around the AFC on a busy Saturday:

  • There was a lot of panic earlier today when A.J. Green went down with a lower leg injury and had to be carted off at Bengals practice. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it’s as bad as it could’ve been. The injury is believed to be an ankle sprain, sources told Albert Breer of SI.com, “but Green will have an MRI to make sure it isn’t something more serious.” The Bengals have already had bad injury luck this offseason, with projected starting left tackle Jonah Williams getting knocked out for the year, and this the last thing they needed. Green was hampered by injuries last year, and limited to nine games due to recurrent toe problems. If the Bengals are going to have any success under first-year coach Zac Taylor, they need Green at 100 percent.
  • Green wasn’t the only notable AFC North player to go down on Saturday. Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III “has a small fracture in his thumb,” sources told Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll be sidelined for a while, but the team is “still optimistic he’ll be ready for Week One.” Griffin injured his thumb when it banged against a defender’s helmet toward the end of Baltimore’s practice, Zrebiec explained in a separate tweet. Starter Lamar Jackson and rookie Trace McSorley are now the only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster, so the Ravens will likely be adding another passer in the next day or two.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are discussing an extension with cornerback Joe Haden.

Extra Points: Patriots, Caserio, XFL, Coaches

The prospect of the Patriots receiving compensation from the Texans for VP of player personnel Nick Caserio does not appear to be completely off the table, despite the recent Texans statement indicating they were no longer pursuing him. But the Patriots’ asking price might dissuade the Texans. The Patriots would likely demand a first-round pick from the Texans for Bill Belichick’s right-hand man, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes. This would be a steep price for an executive, especially one whose contract is up in 2020.

Conflicting reports have emerged about Caserio’s desire to leave New England, but the longtime Patriots exec seemingly has a great chance of becoming a GM after the contract that prevents him from doing so expires. Interestingly, Curran adds that Caserio and current Texans executive vice president Jack Easterby — a former Patriots staffer who has been in the middle of this story — share an agent. The Texans, however, admitted they were not aware of the clause in Caserio’s deal that prevented GM interviews.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • We’ve been hearing a lot about the XFL recently, as the upstart league has held a series of showcases across the country, with some big names showing up. Vince McMahon’s reboot is looking to pickup where the AAF left off, albeit more successfully, and they’ve been coming up with some creative new twists on the game. Oliver Luck, the league’s commissioner, said recently that the XFL is “considering an overtime format much like penalty kicks in soccer or shootout in hockey. Teams alternate plays from the 5-yard line, five tries each, to determine winner,” per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s certainly an interesting idea, and Auman adds that Luck said it should take less than ten minutes to wrap up.
  • There’s also been a lot of talk recently about the lack of diversity on NFL coaching staffs, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The league is looking to address the issue, and recently held a minority coaches summit, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora writes that the “two-day seminar was put in place to shed light on the plight of minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball and to help identify and cultivate a pipeline of diverse coaches with a background coaching quarterbacks.” The whole piece is interesting and worth a read, as La Canfora breaks down everything that went down at the conference. The event was “punctuated by detailed and moving discussions” led by big-time NFL names like Jim Caldwell and Pep Hamilton.
  • In case you missed it, Eli Manning said he isn’t particularly worried about Daniel Jones coming for his job.

 

Patriots Rumors: Caserio, Belichick, Mayo

After his flirtation with (and near departure to) the Texans, it has been rumored that Patriots exec Nick Caserio badly wants out of New England. That’s not necessarily the case, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, who likens Caserio’s situation to that of any player in a contract year.

While Caserio could leave next year when his contract expires, Howe says that it’s too early to predict the outcome of the situation. It has been speculated that Caserio is eager to take on more responsibilities, so one has to wonder whether he could be convinced to stay if he is given more power – and perhaps a different title – within Bill Belichick‘s operation.

Here’s more on the Pats, via Howe:

  • The Patriots technically will not have a defensive coordinator in 2019 after Greg Schiano‘s latest flip-flop. Inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo called the defensive plays for much of minicamp, but the plan is still for Belichick to handle those responsibilities during the season, Howe hears. Howe’s educated guess: Belichick could grant play calling responsibilities to Mayo in 2020 and hand him the DC job as early as 2021, which would be consistent with the team’s previous handling of the role.
  • Much has been made of the departure of team chaplain Jack Easterby to the Texans, but his absence has been described as “overrated.”
  • So far, the Patriots coaching staff is enthused by what they’ve seen from linebacker Jamie Collins, who returned to the club this offseason after being let go by the Browns. That goes for Collins’ on-field and off-field work, which is good news considering the way he clashed with coaches before he was traded to Cleveland.

East Rumors: Flowers, Jets, Caserio

Given several chances at left tackle with the Giants, Ereck Flowers may be set to receive another NFC East starting opportunity. This one will come with the Redskins, who as of now plan to use the former top-10 pick as a starter. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said, via Les Carpenter of the Washington Post, Flowers is pegged to start opposite Brandon Scherff at left guard. Flowers, who started 48 games at tackle with the Giants and seven with the Jaguars from 2015-18 before moving to guard in Washington, lined up back at tackle during parts of Redskins minicamp because of Trent Williams‘ absence. While the first-round bust did not fare well in the public portion of the workouts, Washington remains optimistic. The Redskins drafted fourth-round guard Wes Martin (Indiana) but appear to have him set to develop behind Scherff and Flowers.

I see a lot of potential when we’ve moved tackles inside,” Callahan said, via Carpenter. “I think it gives us size, it gives us power. He’s long; he’s square. Obviously, he can play in the short area, so those are things we kind of identified during free agency that we liked, and we are trying to fit him into that mode. So it’s been a work in progress, we got a long ways to go yet, but he’s made a nice transition.”

Shifting first to the AFC, here is the latest from some of the NFL’s Eastern Time Zone-stationed franchises:

  • Colts VP of player personnel Rex Hogan becoming the Jets’ assistant GM may nix the franchise pairing two of its GM candidates in the front office. Bears exec Champ Kelly was linked to the Jets, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes (Twitter link) the recent New York GM interviewee was the favorite for the job Hogan received. With Chad Alexander coming aboard as the Jets’ player personnel director and Phil Savage having also accepted a Jets job, the Jets are running out of prominent titles. This could keep Kelly in Chicago.
  • Hogan was still under contract with the Colts, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, but Chris Ballard gave permission to allow for one of his top lieutenants to leave. Although Hogan and Ed Dodds were hired together, Cimini notes (on Twitter) Hogan served as the Colts’ No. 3 man in their decision-making hierarchy and will move to No. 2 with the Jets. This could put Hogan, who obviously helped the Colts in their rapid rebuild, on the GM radar in the near future.
  • Moving to a far more contentious process, Nick Caserio remains with the Patriots as their player personnel director. But with Caserio preparing to leave in 2020 — perhaps to become the Texans’ GM — Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders how much input Bill Belichick‘s right-hand man will have over the next several months. Caserio’s contract runs through the 2020 draft, per Florio, but will Belichick clue in a potentially departing exec on the inner workings of his plans? In a draft when the Patriots could be (again) targeting a Tom Brady successor, the uncertainty around Caserio may force the Pats to turn to other execs during that research process.

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.

Nick Caserio Prepared To Leave Patriots

The tug-of-war that the Patriots and Texans engaged in over the past week or so ended with Houston in the mud and New England holding the prize, director of player personnel Nick Caserio. There are a number of theories as to why the Texans agreed to stop their pursuit of Caserio, but we learned on Friday that Caserio may have language in his contract with the Patriots that specifically forbids him from interviewing with any other team.

Indeed, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes that theory makes the most sense, and when Caserio signed his last extension with the Pats, Reiss says New England may have asked Caserio to not pursue any other openings in exchange for longer-term security and increased salary. Of course, the NFL’s anti-tampering clause could have superseded such a contractual provision if Houston elected to challenge it, but the Texans opted to avoid battle with one of the league’s most powerful owners, Robert Kraft. Speculatively, Caserio could have filed a grievance of some sort, but even if he were justified in so doing, he may have felt it was better for a GM hopeful like him to not go that route.

But Reiss says that Caserio does appear motivated to move on when contractual obstacles no longer prevent him from doing so, and we now know that Caserio’s contract expires after the 2020 draft. If Houston is dead set on Caserio, the club could wait for him and may not fill their GM vacancy in the interim, though that would seem to be a very risky strategy. But the Texans are not the only team who believe Caserio has what it takes to be a GM, and Caserio himself knows it.

As Reiss reports, Caserio is represented by influential agent Bob LaMonte, which came as a surprise to Reiss, who believed that Caserio represented himself. That suggests that Caserio is prepared to accept his big promotion when it comes, so New England will likewise need to be prepared to replace him.

As for the short-term relationship between Caserio and New England, Reiss believes the exec will be able to take any resentment he might be feeling towards the Pats out of the equation and smoothly transition back to his regular responsibilities. The fact that he could be running his own ship in 2020 will certainly help take the sting out of his missed opportunity with Houston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Nick Caserio, Patriots, Texans

It’s been a tumultuous few days for the Patriots and Texans, as the two sides went back and forth regarding the availability of executive Nick Caserio. In an attempt to diffuse any lingering tension between the two organizations, Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement last night (via Twitter):

“The Houston Texans and New England Patriots have always had a great working relationship. We appreciate the way Cal McNair has handled this situation.”

To review, the Texans owner said yesterday that the organization learned of “certain terms” in Caserio’s contract and would no longer be pursuing the executive for the general manager opening. At the same time, New England had agreed to drop their tampering charges against Houston, which would seemingly end the entire ordeal.

Of course, nothing ever ends in the NFL. There have been plenty of additional opinions regarding the Caserio fiasco, which we’ve compiled below…

  • Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explores the contract language that prevented Caserio from leaving New England for Houston, and the writer wonders if the terms violate league rules. Florio points to the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, which says “If . . . the inquiring club is prepared to offer a position as a high-level employee . . . the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.” Based on this description, Florio believes the anti-tampering clause would supersede any clause in Caserio’s contract.
  • Furthermore, if the Texans wanted to challenge the clause, the NFL may have had their back. A source told Florio that at least one other NFL team was employing a “non-high-level employee” with that kind of stipulation in their contract. The source said that one rival team attempted to challenge that clause, and the NFL ultimately invalidated the specific contract terms. In other words, if the Texans had challenged the Caserio clause, there’s a good chance they would have been successful.
  • Meanwhile, Florio wonders if the Patriots and Caserio will be able to repair their relationship, as it appears that the executive was focused on moving to Houston. If the relationship has deteriorated beyond repair, Florio believes the Patriots will “begin to implement a strategy for eventually replacing him.”

Extra Points: Texans, Patriots, Packers

The big story of the day has been the drama surrounding Patriots exec Nick Caserio. The Texans announced earlier today that they’d be backing down from their pursuit of Caserio, and the Patriots in turn agreed to drop tampering charges. The Texans’ statement from owner Cal McNair indicated there was a provision in Caserio’s contract they were unaware of, and now we have some clarity. It was initially thought he would be allowed to interview since the Texans’ job is a clear promotion, but Caserio apparently has language in his contract that specifically forbids him from interviewing with any other team.

Caserio’s contract ends right after the 2020 draft, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero floats the possibility that the Texans could wait until then to hire a GM and then go after Caserio, which is in line with another recent report that indicated the Texans might go without a GM for the rest of the season. In a follow-up tweet Pelissero writes that “the call between Cal McNair and Robert Kraft was very cordial,” and that after the Texans learned of the contract language they “asked what a trade would cost,” but the Patriots declined. It’s fair to question why the Texans wouldn’t be aware of such language before they made it very clear that they wanted Caserio for the job, although that’s now a question for another day. Pelissero also was told that for now “the process will continue,” so it seems like they aren’t closing the door on hiring a GM for this year quite yet. Non-Caserio candidates reportedly include former GMs Ray Farmer, Martin Mayhew, Reggie McKenzie, and Scott Pioli.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Friday night:

  • The Texans aren’t the only team shuffling around their front office. The Packers promoted Richmond Williams to director of pro personnel and Brett Thiesen to college scout, per Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. Williams is entering his twelfth year with the team, and originally joined Green Bay as a scouting intern all the way back in 2007. Green Bay’s power structure remains unchanged, with team president Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst still running the show.
  • In addition to everybody on their 90-man roster, the Colts also had a group of tryout players at their minicamp this week, per Joel Erickson of The Athletic (Twitter link). There were a couple of notable names trying out, including former Jaguars receiver/kick returner Jaydon Mickens. Mickens, a 2016 UDFA out of Washington, showed very well as a returner in 2017, but was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury last October. The Jags elected not to tender him a contract after the season. It’s a bit surprising he hasn’t been able to resurface on anyone’s offseason roster yet.
  • Star Lions cornerback Darius Slay skipped the team’s minicamp, and is apparently undecided on when his holdout will end. “Time will tell” whether he shows up to training camp next month, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Slay still has two years left on his contract, but feels grossly underpaid. He’s set to earn about $12.5MM in 2019 and $10MM in 2020, which has him outside of the top-10 among cornerbacks in average annual value. Slay has already forfeited $250K in workout bonuses this offseason, and will be fined more if he doesn’t report soon. This will be an important situation to monitor, as Slay is Detroit’s best player on defense.