Patriots

In saying nothing, Nick Caserio said plenty at training camp presser

In saying nothing, Nick Caserio said plenty at training camp presser

FOXBORO –Nick Caserio dodged questions about the Houston Texans failed pursuit of him for their vacant GM job on Saturday morning.

And even though his answers pledged commitment, a willingness to serve and a sense of privilege to be in New England, the session did nothing to kill the belief that Caserio isn’t happy with the way things played out.

It was his, “On to Cincinnati…” moment.

Caserio, the team’s Director of Player Personnel, met every question about the Texans with an answer ripped straight from a Morning Motivations day planner.

Asked if he had any disappointment about being blocked from interviewing with the Texans (it’s now been twice in three years), Caserio responded, "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."

Another Houston question: "I'd say I'm pretty honored and privileged to be in the position I'm in...I'm fortunate and honored to work with Bill on a day to day basis and a lot of other people in this building."

A question about wanting to someday have sole responsibility for building a team: "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."

If Caserio wanted to squish it, it would have been easy. A simple, “I’m certainly flattered by the Texans interest, lotta respect for the folks there, but this is where I want to be and it worked out for the best.”

Didn’t get that.

Caserio’s contract is up after the next draft. Even though he gets consistent verbal credit from Bill Belichick for being one of the league’s most valuable front-office executives, his title remains Director of Player Personnel. Not VP. Not GM.

And while Belichick likes to dismiss the importance of titles – even if they mattered plenty to him in the span from 1991 to 2000 when he was the one trying to maneuver and climb into positions of power. The fact that Caserio’s got such a humble title is, in part, what allows the perception to remain that Belichick runs all.

Meanwhile, the Patriots give Caserio enough credit and responsibility to make it easy for them to argue he is a “high level employee” without the title and, hence, not eligible to interview for a GM job.

Here’s the relevant rule:

“An individual who is the primary football executive for the club and who has...

(i) The primary authority over all personnel decisions related to the signing of free agents, the selection of players in the College Draft, trades and related decisions;

and

(ii) The primary responsibility for coordinating other football activities with the head coach. Final authority regarding the composition of the 53-player roster is not a requirement.

Except as may be otherwise provided in such contract, a club is not obligated to grant another club permission to discuss employment with a high level employee if he or she is under contract even in the inquiring club is prepared to offer the employee a position of greater responsibility within the category of high-level club employee.“ 

It’s obvious the Texans thought they’d have a clean run at Caserio. They fired their GM Brian Gaine and immediately requested permission to interview Caserio. That just doesn’t happen in June.

The request also came soon after the Patriots “ring ceremony” at which former Patriots employee Jack Easterby was in attendance. Easterby, who’s now got a prominent role with the Texans, had ample time to gauge Caserio’s interest in joining Houston during that event.

So the Patriots and Belichick are well within their rights to be pissed off if they believe there was backroom dealing in trying to get Caserio to the Texans. He’s still under contract. It’s the eve of the season. It’s a shady thing to do. If it went down that way.

And Caserio – now twice blocked for the opportunity to even interview with Houston – has to be wondering whether all this loyalty and servitude is really worth it if he doesn’t have the autonomy to listen to the pitch for what would be a promotion.

It got messy. It got dropped. It’s been pocketed for the time being by all parties. But it sure doesn’t feel like it’s forgotten.

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Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Why in God’s name do I keep reading and hearing “Cam Newton” and “Patriots” in the same sentence?  

Or Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton or any other backsliding veteran on the free-agent quarterback market?

Are people insane? Were they slumbering for the past 19 years? Or just a little forgetful?

The lead mule pulling their wagon for the past 20 years was a sixth-round pick. The only guy that filled in for the aforementioned sixth-rounder over an extended period was a seventh-round pick. The guy who was supposed to succeed the sixth-rounder was a second-rounder from a Div. II school.

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Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo were all overlooked, undervalued and brought into the Patriots laboratory where they turned into either good, really good or legendary quarterbacks. The Patriots brew their own quarterbacks, thank you very much.

And with a one-year hitch in salary cap jail hanging over them, they are not going to be in the market for someone looking to make a seven or eight-figure salary who just flunked out of a lesser team’s program.

The Patriots make their own brew, thank you very much.

Bill Belichick has the helmeted heads of so many first-rounders and first-overall picks mounted on his wall that suggesting he’d be in the market for a live one makes no sense.

During Tom Brady’s long goodbye, I was told by team sources the Patriots weren’t going to be chasing a veteran “name.” And their actions since have signaled that.

They are going with their fairly-promising fourth-rounder, Jarrett Stidham, and they have Brian Hoyer (undrafted free agent who came into the league with the Patriots in 2009) to take the reins if the Coronavirus-marred offseason means Stidham’s not ready.

And, thanks to our Quarantine Question of the Day posed Monday morning on Twitter, it’s clear most Patriots fans think that’s the right approach.

Of the 5,148 votes cast in six hours, 64.6 percent of respondents chose “Ride with Stidham/Hoyer” as the preferred Patriots approach for 2020.

Meanwhile, 12.2 percent felt that bringing in a rookie to compete with Stidham was the move to make. I suggested either Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love in the poll. Others suggested different options to battle Stidham as Brady’s successor.

I jokingly included an option to trade with the Bucs for Brady. A significant portion (17.4 percent) of the populace thought that was a capital idea (even though Brady has a no-trade clause).

There was a suggestion I didn’t hate -- grabbing Niners backup Nick Mullens to come in and push Stidham.

The least popular option was recycling someone like Newton. That option drew just 5.8 percent of the vote.

And one respondent had a hard time making his selection at all.

It happens. We’ll be back later in the week with more QUARANTINE QUESTIONS OF THE DAY!!!!

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater is the latest New England Patriots player to give a positive review of young quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and after not getting many regular season reps as a rookie, he's now the leading candidate to replace Tom Brady after the six-time Super Bowl champion left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

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Taking over for the greatest quarterback in NFL history will be an enormous challenge for Stidham (or whoever wins the starting job for Week 1), but Slater is optimistic about the 23-year-old's talent and mental makeup.

"He's a great kid, and I think that’s the thing that is going to matter the most with any player – who is he as a man, who is he as a person, what’s he motivated by? He’s just a great kid to be around," Slater said Monday during a media conference call. "He brings a lot of positive energy, he’s always got a smile on his face, and you can tell he’s very appreciative of the opportunity that he had last year and the opportunity that he’ll have going forward. So, certainly he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position. Coach Belichick and his staff wouldn’t have brought him in here if they didn’t think he had those qualities.

"I think at that position, almost more than any other, it’s going to be the intangibles that get a guy to maybe a successful position. So, I think he’s got some good traits. I think he’s going to be a good player. His attack, his approach is going to have to be one day at a time, just like any of us. I think it’s important, and I’ll certainly encourage him, just to be himself – be himself, continue to be the person that he is, continue to be the teammate that he is, and we’ll just take this thing one day at a time."

Slater isn't the only Patriots player who's given a positive review of Stidham of late. Veteran safety Devin McCourty praised Stidham's poise and maturity (among other qualities) during a recent episode of his "Double Coverage" podcast and on a media conference call last week.

Stidham showed flashes of his exciting potential during last year's training camp and preseason, and now he should get the opportunity to prove he's capable of being a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Even though this will be a brand new and difficult challenge for him, he does have some good experience to help him. Stidham played against SEC competition for two years as Auburn's starting quarterback before spending all of 2019 learning from Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Patriots fans will love Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals