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;
(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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