Belichick provides glowing endorsement of conscientious Caserio

Belichick provides glowing endorsement of conscientious Caserio

How about this for an endorsement? 

Nick Caserio has received interest from the 49ers, who are in need of a general manager, and it's easy to see why they might be interested given what Bill Belichick had to say about his director of player personnel on Tuesday. 

"I mean Nick does a tremendous job," Belichick said during a conference call. "He and his staff do a tremendous job of, first of all, seeing hundreds and hundreds of players from the draft choices on a perspective draft class to all of the players in the league on all of the teams.

"[During] training camp we start looking at the players that we think might be available, might not make the roster, and then as we go through training camp players that maybe a team would consider trading or moving off of their roster but aren’t released players. And then all of the practice squad transactions.

"We’re definitely a team that has some roster movement throughout the course of the year, and Nick does a great job. I can’t imagine any personnel person in the league that sees more players than he does -- both in the spring scouting process part of it for the draft, and then just watching tape on players throughout the course of the year. He does a great job of that, bringing players to the table, to the conversation, guys that would help our team, or guys that might be available that we could trade for. That’s happened a few times this year . . .

"Nick has a good staff. A lot of those guys have been here for a number of years. We have a lot of experience on both our pro and college staff. [Director of pro personnel] Dave Ziegler and [director of college scouting] Monti Ossenfort – those guys do a great job as well, and the people that work with them.

Caserio, 41, joined the Patriots as an offensive assistant back in 2002. Since then, he's served in a variety of different roles -- including personnel assistant, area scout, director of pro personnel and wide receivers coach -- and established his value as "a lobe of Belichick's brain."

Belichick explained on that he and Caserio have spent so much time together over the years that the process of identifying the right players for the Patriots has become relatively seamless.

"We’ve dealt with a lot of players," Belichick said. "A lot of times when we bring a guy in we can say ‘This player is sort of similar to somebody else we had. This would be his role or this would be how he would be beneficial for us in a situation similar to somebody else we’ve had.’ That’s part of the experience.

"It’s definitely valuable, and the fact that we’ve been together, and we’ve all gone through a lot of players together -- both guys that have worked out and guys that haven’t -- certainly helps the overall efficiency and the smoothness of the operation . . . It’s a huge volume of number of players that [the personnel department has] to dig through, but they do it tirelessly. I think Nick and his staff have done a great job on that."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."