Patriots

An old-fashioned tampering battle over Caserio for the Patriots and Texans

An old-fashioned tampering battle over Caserio for the Patriots and Texans

Hey, maybe the Texans didn’t tamper with Nick Caserio.

I mean, they couldn’t be so naïve as to think firing their general manager last Friday – a day after former Patriots chaplain and current Texans VP of Player Development Jack Easterby was at the Patriots ring ceremony – then requesting permission to speak with Caserio about the vacancy wasn’t going to set off alarm bells, could they?

And they – meaning Easterby, Texans coach Bill O’Brien and Texans owner Cal McNair – couldn’t have believed the request to yank Caserio wasn’t going to be met with A) resistance and B) suspicion. So, I’m prone to giving them the benefit of the doubt that they couldn’t so blatantly telegraph their intentions and not expect some fallout.

Because if they did tamper and the investigation the Patriots have requested the league to begin into L’Affaire Caserio uncovers evidence, there’s a simple old saying that applies.

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Patriots history dating back to 1996 is littered with proof that, when the Patriots – and that means both Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick – believe their employees are being pilfered outside the rules, they are going to take action.

It happened in 1997 when Bill Parcells negotiated his exit from the Patriots to join the Jets kicking off the so-called Border War. And Belichick’s return to New England from New York in 2000 was every bit as messy and led to a Cold War between Big Bill and Little Bill that took a few years to thaw.

The agitation with Eric Mangini when he went to the Jets after the 2005 season was rooted in the belief Mangini was trying to convince Patriots assistants and players to join him in New York while he was still a member of the Patriots coaching staff.

The irritation that flowed from that led to a tit-for-tat snitching contest between the two teams over video personnel and that ballooned into SpyGate which, less than a decade later, may have indirectly birthed Deflategate.

Now the Patriots have seen all manner of employees light out for the territories over the past few years. Matt Patricia went to the Lions. Josh McDaniels nearly went to the Colts. Brian Flores went to the Dolphins. Assistants and front-office personnel have accompanied them. They’ve seen former coaches – after stops elsewhere – land in head jobs in other cities and tap Patriots players as free agents and executives to join them.

But those occasions at least came during the period when people were moving around anyway – after the season and before the draft. For the Texans to fire a seemingly capable GM in Brian Gaine in June and expect they could extract Caserio seems like it was a little too bold a maneuver for the Patriots to merely shrug at.

So here we are.

And now the Patriots are going to fight against O’Brien and Easterby who reportedly has gained “juice” within the Texans organization since being hired by Gaine. 

Easterby is, according to Houston Chronicle writer John McLain, going to be involved in the interviews to replace Gaine. The Patriots seem to believe he – or someone with the Texans – has already been involved in more than that.

The bone over which the two franchises will now fight – Caserio – finds himself in an uncomfortable position. I don’t know if  I’ve encountered a more principled, ego-free, honest, hardworking executive with the Patriots than Caserio in the time I’ve covered the team.

But it takes two to tango and if Easterby or O’Brien made inquiries to Caserio or Caserio’s agent prior to the Texans canning Gaine and Caserio indicated he was game for a change then we have a sticky situation for one of Belichick’s most loyal and valuable lieutenants to deal with.

The turnover on the Patriots staff in the past few years has been massive. And the Patriots have done what they could when they could to stem it by either blocking requested interviews as they did with Caserio and director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort or convincing coaches like McDaniels to stay.

Where do things go from here?

Well, Caserio – who still hasn’t been granted permission to interview – could stay and the Texans (if found “guilty”) could still be penalized.

Or the Patriots could let Caserio go, deal with a pretty important loss and take whatever compensation Houston is forced to give.

Or there could be a fight after the tampering charge is resolved as to whether or not Caserio already was a high-level employee of the Patriots and is therefore ineligible to leave as he’s under contract.

One thing that’s guaranteed to come from this? Hard feelings.

 

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Bengals coach Zac Taylor won't comment about Patriots videotaping investigation

Bengals coach Zac Taylor won't comment about Patriots videotaping investigation

The news of Patriots-affiliated photographers videotaping the Bengals' sideline went mainstream when Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor was asked about it Monday.

And though he only offered limited commentary — he said he was "aware there was an incident" and that "the league was investigating it" — the response turned into national headlines and easy jokes from Patriots haters across the country.

Taylor had another chance to offer his thoughts on the situation Thursday morning during a conference call with the New England media, but he stayed away from further commentary. Far, far away. 

Here's the exchange:

Q: What are your general thoughts on the videotaping situation with the Patriots?
ZT: I have no comment on that.

Q: Some reports have said that you are livid about the situation. Is that true?
ZT: I have no comment on that.

Q: How much do you and your coaching staff use hand signals during games?
ZT:
I think, like any team, we communicate visually and verbally, depending on the environment we’re in.

Q: Do you believe the Patriots’ explanation for this situation?
ZT: I don’t have any comment on any of that stuff.

Q: Has anyone from the Patriots organization reached out to you to clear the air?
ZT: I don’t have any comment on any of that.

Q: Why do you believe it’s in your best interest not to have any comment at any point on this ongoing incident that’s affected your team?
ZT:
Because this is a tough opponent right now, and we’re devoting all of our time to making sure we’re prepared. And so that’s where all of our focus has been on.

Q: Your time now is spent with us, though.
ZT: Yeah, it is. And I have no comment.

Q: Do you regret anything about how this all transpired?
ZT: No. 

Well, that explains that. Or does it? According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, Bengals employees were reportedly "livid" about the videotaping.

If Taylor really isn't letting this situation distract him from the task at hand, that's because it's already a big enough challenge for the first-year coach. His 1-12 Bengals are 10-point underdogs to the Patriots Sunday.

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE TO TOM E. CURRAN'S PATRIOTS TALK PODCAST: 

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Patriots vs. Bengals Injury Report: Isaiah Wynn misses practice with eye issue

Patriots vs. Bengals Injury Report: Isaiah Wynn misses practice with eye issue

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's session, but one of his fellow offensive starters was absent.

Left tackle Isaiah Wynn missed the practice with an eye issue. Wynn suffered a toe injury in Week 2 and didn't return until Week 12. It's unclear whether Wynn's eye ailment will impact his availability for Sunday's Week 15 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (right elbow) and rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry (hip) both were full practice participants. Veteran wide receivers Julian Edelman (knee/shoulder) and Mohamed Sanu (ankle) were limited participants. Defensive lineman Byron Cowart (concussion) also returned to practice after not participating Wednesday.

Here are the full Thursday injury reports for both teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-3)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
OT Isaiah Wynn, Eye

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, Knee
DL Byron Cowart, Concussion
WR Julian Edelman, Knee / Shoulder
OL Ted Karras, Knee
CB Jason McCourty, Groin
WR Mohamed Sanu, Ankle
DL Danny Shelton, Shoulder

FULL PARTICIPATION
QB Tom Brady, Right Elbow
WR N'Keal Harry, Hip

CINCINNATI BENGALS (1-12)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
DE Carlos Dunlap, Not Injury Related (Rest)
WR A.J. Green, Ankle
DT Rennel Wren, Hip

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DE Sam Hubbard, Knee

FULL PARTICIPATION
DT Geno Atkins, Not Injury Related (Rest)
CB Darqueze Dennard, Not Injury Related (Rest)
TE Tyler Eifert, Not Injury Related (Rest)
WR John Ross, Foot

Sanu gives huge praise to Edelman's toughness>>>

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