Is this what they mean by “The Texas Two-Step?”
The Houston Texans appear to be trying for the second time in as many years to lure Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio to the Lone Star State. According to a well-connected media member who covers the Texans, Houston recently made a formal request to speak with Caserio regarding the club's suddenly vacant general manager position.
In January of 2018, Houston tried unsuccessfully to interview both Caserio and New England’s director of college scouting, Monti Ossenfort, for that same opening, but the Texans were denied access by the Patriots at the time. Houston eventually settled on Brian Gaine, their former director of player personnel, for the post, but he only lasted one season as Texans GM. Gaine was dismissed late last week, as noted in the above Tweet, leading Houston to search once again for a general manager.
It’s little surprise that Houston would be interested in the 43-year-old Caserio again, as head coach Bill O’Brien has strong ties to New England. O’Brien served as a Patriots assistant coach from 2007-10 and officially as offensive coordinator in 2011. O’Brien is reportedly part of the Texans’ search committee for a new GM, which also includes Jack Easterby, New England’s former character coach and team development overseer. Easterby left Foxborough for Houston earlier this offseason for a promotion that includes the title of executive vice president.
What’s more, Caserio appears to be held in high regard around the league, as his name frequently surfaces as a candidate for similar jobs across the NFL. He first entered the NFL in 2001 as a Patriots scouting assistant and has remained with New England in various roles. Having vacillated between coaching and scouting positions during his first several years, Caserio found a niche on the personnel side and in 2008 was assigned its top post within the organization. Yet, Caserio maintains an active presence on the practice field as well, where he frequently takes part in drills to assist and augment Belichick’s coaching staff.
His talents caught the attention of Indianapolis following the 2012 season, but he turned down that offer to interview for the Colts’ top personnel post. A year later, in January 2014, Caserio interviewed for the Miami Dolphins’ general manager job, but eventually turned it down as well.
Later that same calendar year, in December 2014, media reports indicated that Caserio signed a lucrative contract extension to remain with New England through the 2020 season (the Boston Herald specified that Caserio’s pact earns him around $2 million per year). Apparently, that has not deterred Houston, at least, from inquiring about him once more. Caserio also reportedly turned down a San Francisco 49ers’ GM job interview in January 2017.
ESPN reported on Thursday (June 13) that the Patriots have since responded to Houston’s request by filing a tampering charge against the Texans. Unnamed sources in the ESPN report also point out the rather obvious, that New England has not granted Houston permission to conduct a formal interview with Caserio.
It’s not at all surprising that New England appears to be trying once again to thwart the Texans’ attempts to pry Caserio from Foxborough. Caserio is clearly rare, if not unique, in what he brings to his role with the Super Bowl Champions. His departure – assuming he’s even interested in such a move – would create a considerable void in both the Patriots’ front office and football operations departments.
Furthermore, this comes during an offseason in which Bill Belichick has already experienced the most turnover ever on his coaching staff. Belichick can ill afford to lose yet another member of his staff, particularly one so experienced as Caserio. As a result, it will be fascinating to see how this unforeseen development unfolds during a time of year on the NFL calendar when virtually no significant business typically takes place.