Nick Caserio

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured GMs

Wednesday, we took a look at how the 2022 offseason changed the HC landscape. While 10 new sideline leaders are in place for 2022, not quite as much turnover transpired on the general manager front. Five new decision-makers, however, have moved to the top of teams’ front office hierarchies over the past six months.

The Bears, Giants, Raiders and Vikings rebooted their entire operations, hiring new HC-GM combos. The Minnesota move bumped out one of the previous top-10 longest-tenured GMs, with 16-year Vikings exec Rick Spielman no longer in power in the Twin Cities. The Steelers’ shakeup took the NFL’s longest-tenured pure GM out of the mix. Kevin Colbert was with the Steelers since 2000, and although he is still expected to remain with the team in a reduced capacity, the 22-year decision-maker stepped down shortly after Ben Roethlisberger wrapped his career.

Twelve teams have now hired a new GM in the past two offseasons, though a bit more staying power exists here compared to the HC ranks. Two GMs (the Cardinals’ Steve Keim and Chargers’ Tom Telesco) have begun their 10th years at the helms of their respective front offices. They have hired three HCs apiece. The Buccaneers’ Jason Licht is closing in on a decade in power in Tampa Bay; Licht will now work with his fourth HC in Todd Bowles. Beyond that, a bit of a gap exists. But a handful of other executives have been in power for at least five seasons.

Here is how long every GM or de facto GM has been in place with his respective franchise:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  5. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010; signed extension in 2021
  6. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010; signed extension in 2022
  7. Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams): February 10, 2012; signed extension in 2019
  8. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013; signed extension in 2022
  9. Tom Telesco (Los Angeles Chargers): January 9, 2013; signed extension in 2018
  10. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014; signed extension in 2021
  11. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016[4]
  12. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016; signed extension in 2022
  13. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  14. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017; signed extension in 2021
  15. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  16. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  17. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  18. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
  19. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  20. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  21. Nick Caserio (Houston Texans): January 5, 2021
  22. George Paton (Denver Broncos): January 13, 2021
  23. Scott Fitterer (Carolina Panthers): January 14, 2021
  24. Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions): January 14, 2021
  25. Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons): January 19, 2021
  26. Trent Baalke (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 21, 2021
  27. Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders): January 22, 2021
  28. Joe Schoen (New York Giants): January 21, 2022
  29. Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears): January 25, 2022
  30. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings): January 26, 2022
  31. Dave Ziegler (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  32. Omar Khan (Pittsburgh Steelers): May 24, 2022

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Although Grier was hired in 2016, he became the Dolphins’ top football exec on Dec. 31, 2018

Texans Still Eyeing Trade-Up From No. 13

Texans general manager Nick Caserio has made it clear he is more than willing to make a trade involving the team’s second first-round pick in tonight’s draft. Even if they keep the other – the third overall selection – the team is eyeing a move back into the top 10, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Texans Willing To Trade One First-Round Pick]

As Schefter details, the Texans are “trying to position themselves” so that a move for a specific target in the latter half of the top 10 becomes feasible. That would open up the possibility of a deal with either of the New York teams (the Jets are slated to pick fourth and 10th, while the Giants own Nos. 5 and 7). The latter in particular has been named as one of multiple trade-down candidates, depending on how the top of the board shakes out.

However, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer speculates that Seattle is actually the key team in this situation. He reports (on Twitter) that some in the league believe Caserio plans to take an offensive tackle third overall, then use the trade to move back in front of the Seahawks to select cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Houston has long been linked to Evan Neal at No. 3, and was recently said to have Stingley rated higher than presumed top corner Ahmad Gardner.

While it remains to be seen which team the Texans would be partnering with to pull off such a move – as well as the price they are willing to pay to do so – this is certainly a situation worth monitoring. A pair of top 10 prospects could go a long way to Houston accelerating the rebuild as they try to move forward from the Deshaun Watson era.

Texans Eyeing OT, CB At No. 3?

While there is still plenty of debate regarding who will hear their name called first in this week’s draft, the Texans represent an interesting focal point with the third overall pick. Two of the top edge rushers are likely to be gone by the time they make that selection, but they will have a number of options, including at offensive tackle and cornerback. 

While general manager Nick Caserio has expressed a willingness to trade down from that slot, it is expected no team will move up into the top-five this year. That will leave them, in all likelihood, with the decision between Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu if they elect to pick their highest-rated offensive linemen. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that the team has been “connected to Neal dating back to the end of the college football season”, leading in part to the plethora of mock drafts linking the two.

On the other hand, the class’ top corners remain in consideration. It was reported last week that Ahmad Gardner could end up being the team’s preferred selection. Given their stated desire to invest more in the position, that wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. What could raise some eyebrows is the team’s apparent preference of Derek Stingley Jr. over Gardner as the top corner. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (on Twitter) that the Texans have done a significant amount of homework on the LSU alum; likewise, ESPN’s Todd McShay adds that Stingley is believed to be higher on Houston’s board than Gardner.

An edge rusher such as Kayvon Thibodeaux cannot be completely ruled out at No. 3, but a tackle or corner seems to be the more likely scenario at this point. In a year dominated by uncertainty, though, which prospect at those positions Houston will lean towards will remain to be seen until Thursday night.

Latest On Texans’ Draft Plans

Unlike last year, when the team had to wait until the third round to make its first selection, the Texans will be busy on Day 1 of next week’s draft. As detailed by Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, Houston is expected to keep their top pick, but their other first rounder could be in play. 

“The reality is probably very few teams are going to want to come up to [No.] 3, just being honest, that’s okay” said general manager Nick Caserio yesterday. It has been well documented that the top of this year’s class is lacking in bluechip prospects; even the Jaguars may prefer to trade down from the first-overall pick.

Assuming they do use the third selection, the Texans are likely to have a free choice of the top offensive linemen, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu. While one (or, quite possibly, two) edge rushers will be off the board by that point, others like Kayvon Thibodeaux should also be available. With that said, it came out earlier this week that top cornerback Ahmad Gardner could be the team’s ultimate choice.

With respect to the 13th overall pick, acquired through the Deshaun Watson trade, Caserio acknowledged the greater likelihood of a move. “Some teams are just set” he said. “Some teams only want to move down… I think it’s important just to be open-minded and be flexible.”

That second first-rounder will likely put the team in range of the second tier of corners and o-linemen, along with most available receivers. Houston’s commitment to Davis Mills as their starting quarterback could help them accommodate another team’s attempt to move up to select a signal-caller. Overall, as Caserio laid out, the Texans should be well-positioned to make multiple significant additions in the draft as they look to take a step forward from last year’s 4-13 season.

More Details On Deshaun Watson Sweepstakes; Latest On Baker Mayfield

Though there were four finalists for QB Deshaun Watson before the Browns and Texans completed the blockbuster trade that sent Watson to Cleveland, as many as 10 teams were reportedly interested in Watson’s services. In remarks he made following the trade, Houston GM Nick Caserio would not say exactly how many teams made inquiries, but he did note that the interest went beyond the Browns, Saints, Panthers, and Falcons.

“I would say there was a fair amount of teams, but what we tried to do was bring the teams that had a legitimate interest, and that was based off the compensation that was presented,” Caserio said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I don’t want to get into the exact number, but there was a few more, however many teams than what everybody was reporting towards the end.”

Caserio’s comments confirm what had been reported all along: only clubs that were willing to meet the Texans’ steep asking price (three first-rounders and more) were granted permission to have an in-person meeting with Watson. While that seems like the only logical move in hindsight, it was quite a masterstroke by Caserio. Had he allowed Watson to meet with all interested clubs, regardless of proposed compensation, Watson may have decided to waive his no-trade clause for only one team, thereby undermining Caserio’s leverage. But as Florio observes, by having a “pre-qualifying” process, Caserio guaranteed that he would get what he wanted before Watson truly got a say in his next destination.

Per Florio, the Colts put feelers out to the Texans, but Caserio was not willing to deal Watson within his division. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the Eagles remained interested throughout the process, but Watson was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause for Philadelphia, largely because he is friends with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and did not want to take away Hurts’ starting job. Wilson adds that the 49ers also placed a call to the Texans last year.

Caserio suggested that reports on the Texans’ being interested in players as well as picks in a Watson swap were at least somewhat overstated, saying, “I would say other than three first-round picks, I would say probably the rest of it was a little bit of speculation.” Still, Wilson reports that if Houston swung a deal with the Falcons, Atlanta CB AJ Terrell would have been intriguing to Caserio, and if the Saints had been able to acquire Watson, New Orleans OLs Erik McCoy and/or Cesar Ruiz might have been a part of the package heading back to the Texans.

In the end, the Browns, who were initially believed to be out of the running for Watson, were able to acquire the three-time Pro Bowler because they were willing to give him a contract — five years for a fully-guaranteed $230MM, which Wilson reports includes a $45MM signing bonus — that other teams were not comfortable matching. We heard at the time the Cleveland-Houston deal was consummated that the financial side of the equation became untenable for the Falcons and Panthers, and Wilson confirmed in a separate piece that Carolina was resistant to a fully-guaranteed pact.

Cleveland may have felt compelled to make such a bold strike because of an unsalvageable situation with Baker Mayfield. Mayfield requested a trade while the Browns’ courtship of Watson was ongoing, and when it appeared that Watson would not waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move to northeast Ohio, the Browns indicated they would not accommodate the request. However, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, Mayfield had no intentions of playing for the Browns in 2022 even if the club had not acquired Watson, and that reality could have forced Cleveland’s hand.

According to Cabot, the Browns had made it clear to Mayfield’s camp that they would pursue a top-flight QB this offseason, but that they were content to run it back with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft if such a pursuit were unsuccessful. Because it had been upfront with him about its intentions, the organization believed it could eventually smooth things over with Mayfield. As we heard last week, though, Mayfield declined owner Jimmy Haslam‘s offer to fly out to Mayfield’s home to discuss the situation, which was a clear indication that there was trouble in paradise.

Cabot further reports that the Watson situation and the team’s comments that it was looking for an “adult” at the quarterback position — thus implying that Mayfield is not, in fact, an adult — merely represented the final straw. Mayfield was said to have issues with HC Kevin Stefanski‘s play-calling and scheme, and as Stefanski will retain play-calling duties in 2022, Mayfield was prepared to skip the Browns’ offseason program and minicamp in an effort to force a trade to a team that has an offense more conducive to his skill-set. As Mayfield is eligible for free agency in 2023, the upcoming season is obviously critical for him, both from a financial and on-field perspective.

We recently learned that Mayfield would prefer to be traded to the Colts. Cabot suggests that, if Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard is interested, he may require the Browns to pay at least some of Mayfield’s $18.9MM salary, and since Cleveland has no choice but to deal Mayfield at this point, the team’s leverage in that regard and in terms of trade compensation is fairly limited.

Both Cabot and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times confirm that the Seahawks may be interested in Mayfield but are genuinely excited by Drew Lock, who recently came to Seattle in the trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos. As for the Texans, Caserio was non-committal when asked if Davis Mills, who started 11 games as a rookie in 2021 and who showed marked improvement down the stretch, would remain Houston’s QB1. Nonetheless, Mills is expected to open the 2022 campaign as the starting signal-caller, despite Caserio’s comments that the team is “starting from scratch” at the most important position in sports.

Texans Looking To Trade Out Of No. 3 Pick?

With a new head coach and, seemingly, a quarterback successor to Deshaun Watson in place, the Texans could be set up to begin moving forward in a new direction. Acquiring draft capital will be central to their offseason plans, which could include, as ESPN’s Sarah Barshop writes, trading out of the third-overall pick in this April’s draft. 

At the start of the offseason, Barshop notes, Texans GM Nick Caserio “hinted” that the team could trade out of the No. 3 slot to add more picks. In a year without sure-fire prospects at the top of the board, not to mention the numerous holes on the roster of a team that has posted four wins in each of the last two seasons, a case could certainly be made in favor of moving down.

If things go according to plan, the Texans will have dealt Watson by the time the draft begins. New head coach Lovie Smith made it clear the team intends to move the 26-year-old before the start of the new league year. He has also publicly supported third-round rookie QB Davis Millswho is likely to be the team’s starter heading into the 2022 campaign. The Watson situation is still centered around the civil suit against him, tough, delays in which could push any resolution deeper into the offseason.

Of course, any Watson trade would likely land the Texans significant draft capital. The same could hold true, as Barshop adds, if the team were to deal veterans such as left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wideout Brandin Cooks in the name of getting younger and less expensive as a team. If the organization wants to fully commit in that direction, one key element will be their decision with that top pick.

Coaching Searches Starting To Come Into Focus

As the playoffs begin, some teams are narrowing in on their preferred targets. Some teams don’t need to worry about the playoffs because their candidate isn’t participating, while others may just be waiting until their candidate’s season is over.

Jason La Canfora, of CBS Sports, reported that former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores is considered the favorite to get the Texans’ open head coaching position. He suggests that firing David Culley may have been a reaction to Flores’s surprising availability. Both firings came as a shock to NFL media, so it’s not outrageous to assume that the Texans saw Flores get cut loose and decided to make a bold move of their own.

Flores and Texans’ general manager Nick Caserio worked together as scouts in the Patriots’ system. Flores won eight of his final nine games in Miami this year, showing a promising potential. Not to mention that Flores was a factor in Deshaun Watson waiving his no-trade clause for the Dolphins earlier this year, before that deal fell through. The Texans have other candidates, but Flores has interviewed with the Bears and will continue to be a target for other teams, so Houston will likely want to secure their target sooner, rather than later.

Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, reported that Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is looking like the favorite to replace Vic Fangio in Denver. This situation is a little more fraught. The connections aren’t quite clear. Obviously Quinn’s resume speaks for itself as he made it to the Super Bowl with Atlanta and has helped develop an impressive, young Cowboys’ defense, but the Broncos just fired a defensive-minded coach in Fangio and it’s a bit surprising to see them double-down on that philosophy.

There’s also the issue that, unlike Flores, Quinn isn’t currently available. He hasn’t even interviewed with any teams. Even when he does, it seems those teams may be in competition with his current employer. La Canfora put out a report that Dallas holds Quinn in such high regard that they might be willing to move on from current head coach Mike McCarthy in order to secure Quinn as his successor.

There’s plenty of moves to be had and plenty of time for it all to play out. Be sure to follow all our updates on the 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Culley’s Departure Doesn’t Affect Watson

According to multiple sources, the departure of former Texans’ head coach David Culley has no effect on where the franchise stands with quarterback Deshaun Watson. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that Watson’s issue was never with the coaching staff and Culley, Watson’s issue was with the ownership. 

The Texans are hoping to trade the 3-time Pro Bowler before the new league year starts on March 16. Watson holds a bit of power in the decision-making for the trade, as he holds a no-trade clause in his contract. Watson, in theory, must approve of his trade location and waive his no-trade clause for the chosen team, as he did with the Dolphins.

The Dolphins’ deal, which valued Watson at multiple first-round picks plus some ancillary picks, ended up falling through as Miami erred on the side of caution when they weren’t able to secure conditions attached to the picks as a safeguard against Watson’s possible discipline. Watson’s deposition is set to take place on February 22, with Watson not due in court until May 2. This makes Texans’ general manager Nick Caserio‘s job a bit more challenging, as the case on Watson will still loom over any potential deals.

Regardless, any head coach or offensive coordinator interviewing for Houston’s open positions should be aware that Watson is not part of the deal. Any coaching candidates will have to do their homework on Davis Mills instead.

Texans Interested In Brian Flores, Jerod Mayo For HC Role

3:47pm: Another Patriots connection is set to be a factor here. Jerod Mayo is expected to be a frontrunner here as well, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Bill Belichick‘s latest right-hand man on defense, Mayo spent time with both Flores and Caserio in Foxborough — as a player and assistant coach. Mayo received an interview request from the Broncos this week but has not been linked to the other jobs just yet. A Texans interview summons seems likely.

2:53pm: The David Culley and Brian Flores firings appear connected. Not long after the Dolphins surprisingly canned him, Flores has surfaced on the radar as a prime candidate to replace Culley in Houston.

The Texans have Flores positioned as the top candidate to take over as head coach, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 reports (on Twitter). Flores and Texans GM Nick Caserio worked together with the Patriots for over a decade, with Wilson adding the duo’s relationship remains close.

[RELATED: Texans Fire Culley After One Season]

This would be an interesting step for Flores, given the state of the Texans. The team has gone 8-25 over the past two seasons and does not have much to bank on long-term on its roster. Deshaun Watson, however, was believed to be interested in playing for Flores in Miami. That certainly does not mean the Pro Bowl quarterback would rescind his longstanding trade request, but it would be an interesting element injected into this equation.

Flores took over a Dolphins roster that was soon gutted in his first season, so the Texans would present somewhat familiar territory. The Dolphins are coming off back-to-back winning seasons, giving Flores some momentum — despite his clashes with team management — as this year’s hiring period gets going.

Texans Unlikely To Trade Deshaun Watson Before Deadline?

Despite reports that the Dolphins and Texans have agreed to compensation in a prospective Deshaun Watson trade, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says that, as of this morning, there is not much hope of a deal being completed prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Josina Anderson of CBS Sports HQ had reported earlier in the week that Houston was not feeling any pressure to swing a trade by the deadline and was content to wait until the offseason (video link).

Although Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants to see his team land Watson, he is said to want more clarity on the passer’s legal situation before green-lighting a trade. And, as Watson’s legal situation is rife with uncertainty at this point, Ross might not be comfortable in authorizing a deal that likely includes three first-round draft picks.

Schefter’s report also casts doubt on whether Miami and Houston are actually in agreement on the trade package. The ESPN scribe suggests that, in addition to all of the legal concerns, there are still lingering “compensation issues” that would need to be hammered out before a trade can be finalized. Indeed, GM Nick Casersio is unwilling to trade Watson for anything less than what he perceives to be maximum value. On the other hand, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Dolphins and Texans were close to a deal a few days ago, and that a trade was not consummated only because the ‘Fins want Watson to settle his legal matters first (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on Twitter).

Of course, Watson theoretically could settle the civil suits that 22 women have filed against him, but he can’t control whether criminal charges are filed. Glazer’s report, though, lends credence to the notion that a deal will not be consummated within the next two days.

Meanwhile, Texans owner Cal McNair wants to put the matter behind him and would like to see Watson traded by Tuesday. But Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says McNair has given Caserio full authority to handle the situation however he sees fit, and if that means retaining Watson through the deadline, then so be it.

We also have an interesting nugget to pass along with respect to the Panthers’ involvement in this process. Schefter confirms that Watson did not waive his no-trade clause for Carolina — or for any team other than Miami — which is at least one reason why the the Panthers are not pursuing Watson in advance of the deadline (though other reporters have said an offseason deal could still happen if Watson remains with the Texans). However, there was speculation that a deal that would send Watson to Carolina would see star RB Christian McCaffrey heading back to Houston as part of the return.

Joe Person of The Athletic says McCaffrey was never part of the trade talks (Twitter link), and Schefter adds that Panthers GM Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule actually called McCaffrey on Friday night to tell him as much.