Nick Caserio

Patriots Extend Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio

After months of speculation surrounding Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, it appears the well-regarded executive will be staying in New England for some time. Per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the Patriots and Caserio agreed to a multi-year extension earlier today.

Caserio has been the center of rumors for some time. As head coach Bill Belichick‘s right-hand man, many teams have at least made overtures at poaching Caserio to run their player operations. Prior to the hiring of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan with the 49ers, San Francisco reportedly was targetting Caserio to work alongside longtime Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. This past offseason, a different former New England assistant, Bill O’Brien, tried to bring Caserio to Houston to help him run the Texans player operations.

Instead, the Patriots filed a tampering charge against the Texans. It appeared to just pause Caserio’s shift. With his contract set to expire at the end of this season, it seemed logical that he would move to Houston as soon as this season ended. However, things have changed. Houston plans to move forward with O’Brien in charge of both player personnel and coaching and Caserio will be staying in New England.

With some major franchise decisions looming for the Pats, Caserio’s familiarity with the organization will surely be appreciated by a group that has to decide whether or not they want to continue with Tom Brady at quarterback and, if they retain him, must decide who his successor will be.

Extra Points: Patriots, Texans, Caserio, Panthers, Holcomb, Broncos, Chubb, Steelers, Dupree

The Patriots have a big offseason ahead of them. Obviously there’s still the Tom Brady situation to work out, but there are some important behind the scenes decisions that need to be made as well. The front office is in a bit of limbo, as two prominent execs in Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort are both on expiring contracts that run out in May. The Texans originally tried to hire Caserio as their GM last year, which resulted in tampering charges. There’s now a good chance that both Caserio and Ossenfort move on from the Pats before the 2020 season, per Albert Breer of SI.com.

Even though we just heard recently that the Texans weren’t going to hire a GM and would continue with Bill O’Brien running the show, Breer writes that the “Texans would find a way to hire him as GM” if Caserio wanted to work in Houston. If Caserio and Ossenfort both leave, Breer writes that the Patriots would likely promote Dave Ziegler. It was rumored that Josh McDaniels might’ve wanted to take Ziegler with him had he landed the head coaching job in Cleveland.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Al Holcomb is back in Carolina. The Panthers have hired Holcomb to be their run game coordinator, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Holcomb was linebackers coach under Ron Rivera in Carolina for five years from 2013-17, so this is a homecoming for him. He spent last year as the Browns’ run game coordinator, and found himself in need of a new job after Freddie Kitchens got bounced from Cleveland. He had previously served as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals under Steve Wilks in 2018. He was a grad assistant at Temple back in the day, which could explain his connection to new Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who was previously the head coach at Temple.
  • Broncos pass-rusher Bradley Chubb showed a lot of promise as a rookie, racking up 12 sacks in 2018. Unfortunately his sophomore campaign was cut short, as he tore an ACL in Denver’s fourth game. On the bright side his recovery seems to be going well, and GM John Elway recently said that he should be ready for OTAs in a few months, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. Chubb was the fifth overall pick out of N.C. State two years ago.
  • The Steelers are likely to place the franchise tag on impending free agent outside linebacker Bud Dupree, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While Pittsburgh very much wants to retain him for 2020, Dulac writes that the team is unlikely to pursue a longterm extension with Dupree because the “money is being earmarked for a big contract” for fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt in the near future. Dupree was drafted in the first round back in 2015, and his career got off to a rocky start. He’s since become more reliable though, starting at least 15 games in each of the past three years. He had his best year as a pro this past season, when he started all 16 games and racked up 11.5 sacks. Amusingly, Steelers president Art Rooney II said the Le’Veon Bell debacle isn’t going to impact how they use the tag moving forward. “I don’t think that affects the way we think about franchise tags or anything at this point,” Rooney said. “We had one, I’ll call it unusual experience, and I think it was that — an unusual experience.

Texans Won’t Hire GM

The Texans’ offseason is underway and they won’t be hiring a new general manager to manage things. On Monday, head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed the team’s previously rumored plans to keep the current structure in place without the addition of a new GM (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). 

I feel like where we are right now it stays the way it is,” O’Brien said of the team’s current front office. “We have a great group of people.”

The Texans have taken a committee approach to roster management since firing Brian Gaine back in June. Since then, executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby has run the football operations department with O’Brien having final say. Meanwhile, VP of Football Administration Chris Olsen handles contracts and salary cap matters with Matt Bazirgan running player personnel.

When Gaine was forced out, the Texans were denied the chance to hire top Patriots executive Nick Caserio to serve as their GM. After their plans were thwarted, the belief was that they would wait until after the 2020 draft, then hire Caserio away from New England. Apparently, that’s no longer the plan.

The Texans’ unorthodox setup has not prevented them from staying active. The Texans traded for running backs Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, giving them the quality backfield that they sorely needed. They also swung a blockbuster deal for Laremy Tunsil and moved Jadeveon Clowney to the Seahawks for a third-rounder and two players. That third rounder later turned into former Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Request Interview With Josh McDaniels

The Browns, who fired head coach Freddie Kitchens yesterday, have requested an interview with Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says McDaniels is the Browns’ top choice (Twitter link).

Of course, McDaniels’ brief and disastrous tenure as the Broncos’ head coach from 2009-10 and his jilting of the Colts after he agreed to become their head coach in February 2018 are well-known. But he remains one of the most respected offensive minds in the game, and he has once again become a popular head coaching candidate.

Cabot writes in a full-length piece that the Browns’ job is attractive to McDaniels, an Ohio native. The question is whether McDaniels would want to work within the Cleveland front office as it’s currently structured. We heard yesterday that GM John Dorsey may be on the hot seat, and while the report of Kitchens’ firing indicated that Dorsey was safe, that may not be the case.

Indeed, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports believes owner Jimmy Haslam will, in fact, alter the executive layer of his team, and he thinks the dynamic between chief strategist Paul DePodesta and Dorsey will change (Twitter link). Cabot confirms that there is a disconnect between DePodesta and the analytics side of the operation and Dorsey and the football side, and that disconnect would obviously need to be resolved prior to McDaniels — or anyone else — agreeing to come on board.

Because of his desirability, McDaniels can afford to be particular and can largely dictate the makeup of a team’s front office. He is likely to want a lot of authority over personnel matters, and he may want to bring current Pats exec and popular GM candidate Nick Caserio along with him.

Meanwhile, Browns assistant coaches met with team brass this morning, per Cabot. They were not fired but were given permission to seek other jobs.

Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, another top candidate for NFL head coaching jobs, is not interested in the Cleveland gig, per Michael Lomabrdi of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans’, Panthers’ GM Search

We heard several weeks ago from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that the Texans, who tried but failed to hire Patriots exec Nick Caserio as their GM this spring, were planning to operate without a GM in 2020. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears differently.

La Canfora says the Texans remain interested in Caserio, who is still a desirable GM candidate. Indeed, La Canfora reported back in October that Houston was expected to hire Caserio in 2020, after his contract with New England is up, which is one of the reasons why Rapoport’s report from earlier this month was a bit of a surprise.

But if the Texans do hope to hire Caserio this offseason, they could face some competition from multiple clubs, including the Panthers. Per La Canfora, Panthers owner David Tepper wants to speak with several coaches and executives with ties to New England, and he was among those who reached out to former Patriots executive Jack Easterby last year.

Coincidentally, Easterby ultimately became Houston’s executive vice president of team development, but La Canfora says Tepper could pursue him and/or Caserio in 2020. Of course, the Panthers currently employ Marty Hurney as GM, and Hurney is a part of the team’s head coach search following Ron Rivera‘s recent firing. But Tepper wants to add multiple people to his front office, and Hurney’s role could change as a result.

One way or another, Caserio will almost certainly not return to New England, and he could have a number of options available to him. Indeed, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says that the team’s extension talks with Caserio have gone nowhere, and the Patriots are bracing for a number of defections from their front office (video link).

In related news, Tepper has officially sold his minority interest in the Steelers, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.