Patriots

Could Texans still try to swing a trade for Patriots exec Nick Caserio?

Could Texans still try to swing a trade for Patriots exec Nick Caserio?

Unless the Texans found former GM Brian Gaine so inept they couldn’t take him for another day, one gets the feeling the team leaped before they looked when they canned him.

Now, with their pursuit of Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio running aground, the team is without a personnel chief and Gaine is doing whatever exiled GMs do in June when they have the rug pulled from under them.

The Texans, according to Houston oracle John McClain, will divvy up the workload between head coach Bill O'Brien, executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan and senior vice president of administration Chris Olsen.

Houston is an upper echelon AFC team. For them to seemingly create an issue where one didn’t outwardly exist and then have no remedy in place is the kind of self-sabotage that’s helped keep the Patriots where they’ve been for two decades.

Making it worse is that Caserio and Easterby have the same agent, Bob LaMonte. Houston should have been able to find out Caserio had the clause in his contract preventing him from leaving the Patriots before his deal expires after the 2020 draft .

(In case you are wondering, no, I didn’t know the Patriots character coach had an agent before this process began either.)

What’s the Texans’ recourse? They can wait, keeping the seat warm for Caserio. They can do what they did when they hired Gaine, skipping down the list to grab someone they may not be sold on. They can make another run at Patriots Director of College Scouting Monti Ossenfort, who the Patriots blocked them from speaking to in January of 2018. Or they can keep up their pursuit of Caserio with a trade.

The possibility of that happening remains alive for another few weeks before training camp begins.

What would it cost? The Patriots' asking price would have to be a first-rounder. Caserio is making around $2M per year according to a 2017 report by Jeff Howe. The Patriots have a streamlined personnel department so his workload is substantial. He also is instrumental as a coach-without-title and shares a brain with Bill Belichick on the types of players Belichick wants in his program. The reason Caserio has the autonomy he does — and he does have more than people think — is because he inherently knows what his boss is looking for.

A first-rounder would seem to be a non-starter for Houston. It’s bad enough they are parading around the party with their fly down. A first-rounder would seem like they’re compounding the mistake.

Something less? Even though Caserio certainly has very high value, to me, the Patriots need to gauge Caserio’s frame of mind and perhaps consider a deal.

I don’t know that he “wants out” but I’m certain he’d have enjoyed the chance to hear a pitch about making more dough, crafting a team with O’Brien and having a part in something that’s being built rather than maintained.

To be blocked from doing so — albeit because of a clause in a contract he agreed to — well, it’s got to feel constricting. And it makes Caserio a lame duck GM as his contract winds down.

Will the Patriots do anything to assuage any irritation he has before he and the personnel staff embark on the grueling process of scouting college players, evaluating every one of the other 31 rosters in the league and making the scores of roster moves the team annually makes?

Or would they consider getting value for him while they still can as they would with a player on an expiring contract?

The question is, how motivated are the Texans to get their man?  

Click here for latest Patriots 53-man roster projection

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These stats highlight the Patriots' excellence protecting the quarterback

These stats highlight the Patriots' excellence protecting the quarterback

The pillars of any good offense in the NFL most likely involve good quarterback play, a solid offensive line and a scheme that maximizes the strengths of its skill players. 

The Patriots have checked all of those boxes for almost two decades, and it's helped them win six Super Bowl championships and nine conference titles. Tom Brady has been the constant for the entire run of dominance and the offensive line's ability to keep a clean pocket has helped him play into his age-42 season. 

According to Connor Price of Pro Football Focus, the Patriots have the fourth-fewest quarterback pressures (2,001) in the league over the last 10 years, trailing only the Bengals (1,786), Saints (1,945) and Titans (1,957). The league-average for the last 10 years is 2,025 quarterback pressures.

Not only that, but New England also sports the fourth-best pressure rate over that span as well (25.4 percent), behind Cincinnati, New Orleans and Pittsburgh with the league average hovering around 28 percent.   

The Patriots have consistently invested in their offensive line and have the masterful Dante Scarnecchia overseeing the unit, but Brady executing the team's offensive scheme to perfection goes a long way in these stats as well. 

What makes Brady so good, among many things, is his ability to understand opposing defense's tendencies and concepts. This allows him to dissect what's happening in front of him quicker than basically any other quarterback and hit his receivers before pass rushers can finish their moves. 

Without Rob Gronkowski going into this season and seemingly more weapons on the outside than normal, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots' offensive line can continue to keep the pocket clean for Brady if he targets more downfield throws. 

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Julian Edelman pumped for Patriots camp to begin: 'School's back in session'

Julian Edelman pumped for Patriots camp to begin: 'School's back in session'

Julian Edelman warmed up for training camp Saturday by putting on a clinic in near 100-degree heat.

The Patriots wide receiver helped conduct his football clinic for about 600 boys and girls at Lincoln-Sudbury High School about 40 minutes north of Foxboro. The Super Bowl MVP compared Pats camp, which begins Thursday at Gillette Stadium, to school being back in session.

“I’m extremely excited for the new year. This is a new team. Training camp coming up, this is kind of like when school’s back in session," Edelman told reporters. "We had summer break, [now] you get to see all the fellas. This is where you learn your team and learn each other and become accountable for each other and work hard together and create a consistency together."

The undisputed veteran of a Patriots receiving corps that is short on big names beside himself, Edelman, 33, is ready to mentor young receivers, such as first-round pick N'Keal Harry. 

“This is like the beginning shape form of your team, these next few weeks. It’s a crucial point. We put a lot of hard work in during the spring, and the next step to playing other teams, so it’s definitely exciting.”

With tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, Edelman takes center stage as Tom Brady's favorite target. He led all Pats receivers with 850 yards in the regular season despite an NFL-imposed PED suspension that kept him out of the first four games. His 10-catch, 141-yard performance against the Rams in Super Bowl 53 earned him game MVP honors.

Starting Thursday, he'll lead a receiver group that includes few familiar names: Phillip Dorsett returns, Braxton Berrios is back from the practice squad, Harry is a top draft pick and free-agent signees Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris are among those who've been added.