Nick Caserio

Latest On Josh McDaniels’ Decision, Future

Josh McDaniels will be staying in New England on an unusual contract, with Albert Breer of SI.com hearing the Patriots‘ OC is expected to sign a four- or five-year extension. Coordinators’ deals typically do not run this long, but with the Patriots convincing their longtime play-caller to make this kind of a decision, it makes sense they’d want to keep McDaniels around long-term. Breer notes McDaniels’ current contract is believed to expire after the 2018 season, so the sides figure to hammer out an agreement soon.

Here’s the latest on the McDaniels saga:

  • Nick Caserio‘s presence was a key factor in McDaniels’ decision to spurn the Colts, Breer reports. The Patriots executive’s choice to stay in Foxborough last year likely kept McDaniels from moving to the Bay Area. The tandem would likely be running the 49ers had Caserio become their GM. The two played college football together in Ohio in the 1990s and will continue to be Bill Belichick‘s right-hand men.
  • As for Belichick, Breer notes he’s not operating like a coach who is planning an exit strategy. “He’s certainly not acting like he’s leaving anytime soon,” a source informed Breer. The 65-year-old coach will be entering his 19th season with the Patriots in 2018. While McDaniels may be the heir apparent, Belichick staying on for multiple years would likely drain the remainder of Tom Brady‘s historically long prime and make it more difficult for the prospective McDaniels teams to build on the Belichick squads’ legacies.
  • It appears McDaniels did call the three non-Patriots assistants who were set to be on his first Colts staff. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets McDaniels phoned Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo to alert them of this seminal about-face. The three have signed deals with the Colts, leaving Chuck Pagano‘s actual successor with an interesting predicament. Chris Ballard said he wanted Eberflus to run his defense regardless of McDaniels’ arrival, however.
  • As for why McDaniels initially became enamored with the Colts, their second-year GM served as the chief reason he was once all set to move to Indianapolis, Breer notes. McDaniels holds Ballard in high regard, and although Andrew Luck was a prime selling point, the Colts’ top decision-maker was the primary reason behind the would-be McDaniels New England exodus.
  • Despite the Patriots’ offensive success under McDaniels, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com writes NFL teams were slow to offer him a second chance after how badly his Broncos tenure went. Robinson noted some around the league questioned whether the 42-year-old assistant had really matured much since his failed Denver stint. The Giants appear to have felt he didn’t. McDaniels became a hot commodity in recent years but now has effectively set a potential bridge to an HC job outside of Massachusetts ablaze. Although, Cesario landing a GM job could lead to an attempt to sell his owner on McDaniels sometime down the line.
  • Not only do the Colts not have any legal recourse they can take after being burned here, Mike Wells and Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com write they don’t look to have grounds for a grievance with the league. McDaniels never signed Colts contract or stopped being the Patriots’ OC.

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.

East Notes: Giants, Collins, Cutler, Jets

A day after referring to Eli Apple as “a cancer,” Landon Collins has attempted to walk that back. While that might be difficult, the All-Pro Giants safety issued an apology (on Twitter) today and confirmed he did so in person in a meeting with Apple and Steve Spagnuolo. The interim HC confirmed the meeting, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

I met with Coach Spags and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins said. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”

On Tuesday during a radio interview, Collins said Apple “needs to grow up.” Wednesday’s apology marks the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga involving the two defensive backs. Earlier this month, Collins said he’d talked to Apple — who has taken a step back this season — and told media the cornerback’s issues were mental and that he was dealing with “significant” personal struggles. Apple then denied Collins spoke with him, and the third-year safety — according to NJ.com — had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to confront the second-year corner. Apple has not been suspended like Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were, but he’s been benched and reportedly nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a harsh film-room session earlier this season.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern divisions.

  • Josh McDaniels remains linked to Patriots exec Nick Caserio regarding GM/HC arrangements, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the New England OC could also be interested in pairing up with Louis Riddick as a GM. Riddick interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last week, although Dave Gettleman is viewed as the favorite. McDaniels and Caserio were a sought-after tandem last year, with the 49ers having shown interest in bringing them to the Bay Area.
  • Adam Gase said Wednesday he has not spoken to Jay Cutler about him returning to the Dolphins in 2018, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Jackson adds the Dolphins remain committed to having Ryan Tannehill return as their starter next season, but he reported last week the Fins would be open to Cutler coming back as the backup. Cutler will start this weekend’s regular-season finale against the Bills.
  • Davis Webb will rise to the Giants‘ No. 2 quarterback role and take Geno Smith‘s place as Eli Manning‘s backup, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will be the first time Webb suits up as an NFLer. Smith will be inactive Sunday, and Webb could see time off the bench in the game under the format Ben McAdoo broached with Manning upon benching him earlier this year. Spagnuolo, however, said (via Schwartz, on Twitter) there are “no guarantees” the third-round rookie makes his NFL debut against the Redskins.
  • The Jets are likely to land a pick in the lower part of the top 10, and Brian Costello of the New York Post ranked the most- to least-likely scenarios involving offseason quarterback plans. Most likely is a setup where the Jets draft Josh Allen with their first pick and re-sign Josh McCown to continue his better-than-expected stopgap work. Costello notes the Jets’ top competition for the Wyoming passer could be the BroncosJohn Elway trekked to the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last week to observe Allen in person. The Jets, though, have put in the most work on Allen to this point. Gang Green’s No. 2 scenario? Kirk Cousins, whom Costello recalls the team showing interest in after Smith was sucker-punched in 2015.

East Rumors: McDaniels, Bridgewater, Martin

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe and Phil Perry and Mike Giardi of NBCSports.com take a look at some of the potential landing spots for Patriots OC Josh McDaniels should he depart New England for a head coaching gig this offseason. The NBC scribes suggest that some of the coaching opportunities may not be as desirable as they were earlier this season — given the increased concerns over Andrew Luck‘s shoulder and the mess that the Giants recently made of their quarterback situation — but both pieces suggest that now might be as good a time as any for McDaniels to make his second run as a head coach (and for director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who is typically marketed along with McDaniels, to get his first crack at a GM job).

Now for more rumors from the league’s east divisions:

  • In the same piece linked above, Perry and Giardi suggest that Patriots corner Malcolm Butler — whose play has suffered this year and who has generally been a “pain in the butt” — foreclosed any chance of a return to New England in 2018 when he retweeted a Pro Football Focus graphic showing Dolphins QB Jay Cutler‘s success against the Patriots’ blitzes in the aftermath of the Pats’ loss to Miami last week.
  • The Jets have been frequently connected to impending free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins and to some of this year’s top collegiate signal-callers (i.e. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen), but Manisha Mehta of the New York Daily News suggests that current Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater could also be in play for Gang Green. After all, Bridgewater — who will also be a free agent at season’s end — is younger than current Jets starter Bryce Petty, he could be had for a reasonable multi-year deal, and he managed to win in Minnesota without much of a supporting cast. This is just an opinion piece, but as Mehta suggests, a Bridgewater signing could be a low-risk, high-reward move that would not necessarily preclude the cash-flush Jets from also pursuing a QB in the first round of the draft.
  • The Cowboys and guard Zack Martin were deep in extension talks over the summer, but they could not get a deal done before the unofficial late August deadline that the two sides set for themselves. However, they are expected to revisit those discussions this offseason, as Martin is only under club control through the 2018 campaign (via the fifth-year option of his rookie contract). Hardik Sanghavi of OverTheCap.com looks at Martin’s case in excellent detail and projects a six-year, $84.6MM deal for the Notre Dame product.
  • James Kratch of NJ.com says the Giants‘ handling of Davis Webb makes no sense, and that New York should start the rookie quarterback over the last few games of the season. After all, if he plays poorly, it won’t ruin his career, and the 2-11 Giants actually stand to benefit from losing out. If he plays well, obviously that would be good for the team, and even though the talent around him is poor, he can still be evaluated, which Kratch says the Giants owe to their new regime. Kratch makes a number of good points, but it sounds as if Eli Manning will remain under center for the duration of 2017, which Kratch says smacks of a desperate campaign to appease Manning.

Giants Eyeing Eliot Wolf, Nick Caserio For GM

Although former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is considered the favorite for the Giants’ GM position, the club also has other candidates in mind. Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf and Patriots vice president of player personnel Nick Caserio are on New York’s radar as it seeks to replace Jerry Reese, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Eliot Wolf

[RELATED: Giants To Begin GM Interviews Next Week]

Wolf, 35, has long been considered a future general manager, but never actually interviewed for an opening until this year (partially because Green Bay denied permission for him to meet with Philadelphia and Detroit in recent hiring cycles). Although he was viewed as a strong contender for the 49ers’ GM job this offseason, Wolf ultimately accepted a new contract with the Packers. He subsequently interviewed with the Colts.

Caserio, who has spent the entirety of his 17-year NFL career in New England, has been linked to other vacancies in the past, but has never shown much willingness to leave Foxborough. Since 2014, he’s declined an offer from the Dolphins and an interview from the 49ers in order to remain with the Patriots. However, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com recently indicated Caserio is “willing to listen” to general manager proposals, and noted the Giants job could hold particular interest.

Each of the candidates for the New York gig could have potential head coaches in mind: a source tells Florio that Gettleman or Wolf could attempt to hire Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, while Caserio could unsurprisingly look at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nick Caserio “Willing To Listen” To Offers

Patriots vice president of player personnel Nick Caserio is “willing to listen” to offers that would make him a general manager with another club, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.

Caserio, who has spent the entirety of his 17-year NFL career with the Patriots, would particularly be interested in the Giants’ general manager position, per Breer. New York, of course, is the only club currently without a permanent GM after firing Jerry Reese on Monday. The Browns, notably, went roughly 11 hours without a general manager on Thursday, as they parted ways with Sashi Brown and hired ex-Chiefs GM John Dorsey on the same day.

Caserio has been linked to other vacancies in the past: he interviewed for the Dolphins general manager job in 2014 but declined an offer, and also declined an interview with the 49ers earlier this year. San Francisco was interested in hiring both Caserio and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in a package deal, but both ultimately stayed put in New England.

While Caserio doesn’t have final say on the Patriots’ roster (head coach Bill Belichick calls the shots in New England), he has contributed in variety of roles during his time with the club. The 41-year-old Caserio has not only worked as a scout and a personnel executive, but spent the 2007 campaign as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach. His current contract is believed to tie him to New England through 2020, but he’d be allowed to take another position if it offered him full roster control.

East Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Hackenberg, Jets

Jerry Jones offered a measured response to Roger Goodell‘s new extension when asked about it on Friday morning.

“No, I don’t really [have any comment],” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (transcript via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). “We’re having a very important [owners] meeting here in Dallas next week beginning Wednesday. That’s very meaningful. I’m looking forward to that. That’ll be very meaningful as we go forward. One of the things that I think that has been mentioned is any role that I might have had in the extension of Roger. As you know, I’ve been on both ends of it as far as any criticism. It’s been my experience in 30 years in the NFL that to make change and to make positive change — every time we all strive to make the NFL better, I include every owner with that — it’s hard. It’s very, very hard. If you really want to make some changes, you usually end up getting a lot of criticism along the way. It’s happened every time with me when we’ve had meaningful change. … We’ll see how it goes forward, but there’s nothing that has surprised me here.”

While Jones seethes behind closed doors, let’s take a look at the latest from the East divisions:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com spoke with people around the league to size up some potential candidates for the Giants‘ GM vacancy. The names he’s hearing include Eliot Wolf (Packers), Nick Caserio (Patriots), Scott Pioli (Falcons), Trent Kirchner (Seahawks), Dave Gettleman (ex-Panthers GM), Louis Riddick (currently with ESPN), and internal candidates Kevin Abrams and Marc Ross.
  • Can Christian Hackenberg still be the Jets‘ quarterback of the future? The former second round pick has yet to see the field, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News won’t rule out the possibility that he could be in the mix next season. For his part, Hackenberg admits that he is anxious to take an NFL snap. “In order to grow and learn, you need to get hit in your mouth,” Hackenberg said. “You need to fail. Then you grow from that. There’s really no intimidation. I got to experience things. I felt like I experienced a lot of really good things this preseason and some things I need to learn from. That’s all part of the process. If you don’t experience both ends of the spectrum, you’re not getting everything out of the adventure.”

NFC East Notes: Giants, Redskins, Jones

Now that the Giants front office and coaching staff is set to go through a number of changes after the firing of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, there’s a ton of speculation of who could be the person put in charge to bring the franchise back to perennial success.

While many people think the hire will come outside the organization, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network thinks interim GM Kevin Abrams should not be overlooked as the Giants begin their search.

Garafolo notes that Abrams is a “cap guy by trade”, but has worked on his scouting ability in recent years and has “attended multiple NFL seminars” to prepare to lead a football operations department. A number of names are likely to be floated for the job given that the team will likely have a high pick and has a track record of winning, but Abrams seems like he might get a realistic shot at turning his interim tag into a full-time position.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Apart from Abrams, Mike Sando of ESPN.com speculated a few candidates from outside the organization who could be contenders for the Giants general manager and head coaching gigs. Sando names front office guys like Nick Caserio from the Patriots, former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and former Colts President Bill Polian. He also highlights many well known up-and-comers such as Eric DeCosta (Ravens), George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf (Packers) and Terry McDonough (Cardinals) among many others. Sando added that former GM’s Scott Pioli (Falcons) and John Dorsey (free agent) could be intriguing hires as well. In terms of potential head coaching candidates, Sando names guys who were on the teams original list back before they hired McAdoo prior the 2016-17 season. This would include current coordinators like Teryl Austin (Lions) and Mike Smith (Buccaneers). An under-the-radar name to watch is Texans defensive coordinator, Mike Vrabel, who is best known for his time leading the Patriots defense to Super Bowl titles.
  • While the Redskins are out of the NFC playoff race after losing to the Cowboys last Thursday, that doesn’t mean that team will start resting their players, states John Keim of ESPN.com. He passes along that Head coach Jay Gruden said that he wouldn’t rest some of their injured starters just because the games don’t have postseason implications for the team. “They’re all trying to get back in the lineup,” Gruden said. “They’re going to play hard because they want to win and want to do well. That’s the reason they’re all here. We try to target guys that love football, are passionate about the game and are going to play hard no matter what. For the most part, we’ve got that here. So whether you are on one year left or five years left, doesn’t really matter.” Starters like left tackle Trent Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and tight end Jordan Reed have all dealt with nagging injuries this season, but it appears that the Redskins won’t just solely be resting key players hoping that could lead to a better draft pick.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones has not played in a game this season as he’s continued to rehab the achilles that he had torn back in March. However, the rookie has yet to participate in practice, reports Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Jones has been eligible to start practicing since the beginning of Week 7, but has just a 21 day time period to be activated to the roster once he does begin to take part in practice. It’s important to note that Berman explains in a follow-up tweet, Jones could just use the last three weeks of the regular season to get extra reps and get a head start on his offseason training. The Eagles currently have corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas patrolling the defensive backfield.

La Canfora’s Latest: McDaniels, Caserio, Luck, Bell

Although things could change very quickly, the 49ers are pleased with what they have seen from rookie head coach/GM tandem Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch during their brief tenures with the club. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that San Francisco “intently pursued” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and player personnel director Nick Caserio this offseason and came very close to hiring both.

This does not sound much different than what we heard back in January, when McDaniels and Caserio were considered the runaway favorites to become the 49ers’ head coach and GM, respectively, and it was reported that McDaniels only withdrew his name from consideration when Caserio declined to interview with San Francisco. Both men have been very discerning when considering their next landing spot, and for good reason, considering their success and relative job security in New England. It is unclear as to why Caserio opted not to interview with the 49ers, but according to La Canfora, the possibility of a McDaniels/Caserio tandem in the Bay Area was even more real than it originally appeared. They remain a potential package deal, and they could leave the Pats in 2018 if the right opportunity arises.

Now for more from La Canfora:

  • The CBS Sports scribe reports that Browns head coach Hue Jackson is “irate” with the team’s decision to release Joe Haden, and that Haden’s release has intensified the tensions between the coach and the front office, specifically GM Sashi Brown. Jackson is particularly angry because the release had no football merit and, in his view, was clearly a salary dump even though Cleveland could have easily carried Haden’s salary on its books (although it was reported that the Browns did at least try to trade Haden prior to cutting him). We have heard previously that Jackson would get every opportunity to right the ship in Cleveland, but given the apparently shaky relationship that he has with the club’s personnel department, that may not be the case.
  • La Canfora writes that Colts QB Andrew Luck will miss several more weeks as he continues to recover from recover from offseason shoulder surgery. That is consistent with reports from earlier this week suggesting that Luck could be on the sidelines until sometime in October. Per La Canfora, Luck is expected to practice sooner rather than later and the plan is for him to ramp up his throwing regimen shortly. Indianapolis, of course, does not want to rush the face of its franchise, but if Luck cannot suit up for a few more weeks — and it would be unfair to expect him to perform to the best of his abilities immediately upon returning to the field — it is fair to wonder whether the Colts have any chance at a postseason push in 2017.
  • We heard back in August that Le’Veon Bell turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Steelers at the eleventh hour, and La Canfora writes that the star back would have actually received $18MM in the first year of the deal. However, the average annual value of the extension was $13MM over the first three years, and Bell has been adamant that his next contract pay him $15MM per year. Contrary to that August report, La Canfora says Pittsburgh officials never believed a deal was done, though they were optimistic given the strength of the offer. The two sides are expected to renew long-term discussions as soon as the season is over.