Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 6, 2009.
NC: How is everybody doing? Good. Fire away.
Q: What has been the hold up on getting Vince Wilfork a long-term extension?
NC: You know, I think that is something every year we talk about at different points. We go back and forth with the agents; we have discussions internally and externally. I think we are still working through some things. Whenever we get to a resolution, I am sure, hopefully we will get to that point but we are working every day. There are constantly discussions. It's on-going and - as far as pin-pointing this is going to be the final resolution - it is hard for us to sit here and say that. Vince [Wilfork] has been a good player for us in our system. He has been productive, he has had some success here, and we want to have him around here. Both parties are working on both sides to try to get something resolved. Whenever that happens, then it happens.
Q: Do you guys rate him as one of the best defensive lineman in the league? Do you think he deserves to be paid like that?
NC: He [Vince Wilfork] has been a productive player in our system. How he stacks up relative to other players in the league may or may not come into play, but we know in our system he's been a productive player and some of those other players, you don't know how they would fit in your system. He has been a good player for us and he has been productive so he is a good player and I think we are cognizant of how he stacks up the league. He's a good player.
Q: How much does legal labor uncertainty play a roll in not wanting to give Vince Wilfork a long term contract?
NC: I think there's a lot of hypothetical. You sort of have to have a contingency plan in place. Will there be a new CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]? When will that get resolved? There is a lot of uncertainty so it's hard but you try to plan for: "OK, if the CBA is resolved, this is what he would like to do. If it's not resolved, here's what we can do." There is a lot of uncertainty as it relates to that and we try to prepare as best we can for either outcome. But that plays a role into it, certainly.
Q: How much are you enjoying being back on the field?
NC: I think my situation has kind of been unique, even if you go back a few years ago when Coach [Ivan] Fears was out for a two to three week period of time. I was out of the field working with the running backs. I have had some degree of experience in this system. So I think, at this point of the year, I certainly enjoy it, and I think what we are trying to do right now is wherever I can help and whatever capacity that might be, then I'm certainly more than willing to do. I have worked with a lot of the coaches offensively on this staff. I've worked with Coach [Bill] O'Brien, Coach [Dante] Scarnecchia. I've worked with Ivan [Fears]. So it's enjoyable, but in the end the whole goal - especially this time of year - is to try to get the players prepared to practice, make sure they know what to do and if I am involved with that, great. However I can help and fit in, I am willing to do that.
Q: How far do you think that will go? Will you be out there during the season?
NC: Yeah, we will see Mike [Reiss]. I think it's sort of on-going. I think we are just kind of going through training camp day-to-day, then go to the preseason and then we'll make an evaluation of how that works. Even at different points in the year, in years past even when I was upstairs exclusively in personnel, there were some things that I was doing on game day, whether it was offensively or defensively. So in the end how that's all going to play out, I'm not sure, but wherever my role is it's whatever we need to do to help our team win games. Whatever that is, then I am going to do.
Q: Has there been a need for you there on the field because there are so many new coaches on the staff and - like you said - you have the experience?
NC: We have a lot of good coaches. Bill [O'Brien] has a lot of experience in the system. Chad [O'Shea], who we brought in to coach the receivers, has been with some other clubs and has some experience. Fortunately, I have a little bit of a background with our system and everybody knows that each year you have change amongst your staff whether it's in coaching or personnel. So I've been here for a few years and have some what of a grasp to what we are doing and I think the communication is good between the group downstairs. So I think that helps. We all work together. We are all meeting on a day-to-day basis so I think there is a good flow. I think it has worked out for all parties.
Q: Scott [Pioli] was here for so long and had so much success. Is that good for you because it sets the bar high or does it add more pressure?
NC: I have got the utmost respect for Scott [Pioli] and what he is able to do, having worked for him. You know I am not Scott Pioli. I am my own person and I am just going to try to perform my job to the best of my ability. Whatever expectations are out there, I mean my whole goal is just try to do the best that I can every day. If that is good enough, hopefully it's good enough. If it's not, hopefully in the end it's not about me, it's about how we do collectively as an organization and I just play a small part in that.
Q: How different is your role since Scott Pioli left? Have you inherited all of his responsibilities?
NC: You know Chris [Gaspar], some of the things that I am doing, I was doing even when Scott was here. I think what we have been able to do is that we have allocated some of the responsibilities; in the end, we all work together. Floyd [Reese has] a wealth of experience in the league. Jason [Light] has been with us previously so we have different people. Everybody sort of understands their role and we work well together. So I wouldn't say that it has changed all that much. In the end, maybe there's a few more things that end up crossing my desk, but in the end I wouldn't say there is a drastic change in terms of responsibilities.
Q: What has it been like working with Floyd Reese?
NC: Floyd's great. He's kind of a southern gentleman. He's real laid back, very easy going. He's got a wealth of knowledge and it's great for me to have somebody like Floyd there as a sounding board. Floyd is a real easygoing guy. He is a joy to be around. It doesn't seem like too much rattles him. I think there's a good rapport between not only Floyd, but also Jason [Light] and John [Robinson] and the rest of our scouting department. I think it's important when you have good people around you to work with, and Floyd has been great.
Q: When you see the contract that Eli Manning just signed in New York, how much does it make you appreciate Tom Brady, that he has often been willing to take a little bit less so you guys can go out and get more players?
NC: Well, whatever the Giants did with Eli [Manning], that's their business. Like we do with every situation, we evaluate the player and try to figure out something that we feel is best. Tom [Brady] has been a productive player with us. Everybody knows what Tom has meant to this organization, to this team. What the Giants are doing, that is their responsibility. There is a market out there, but in the end we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for us and - when the appropriate time comes to do that - hopefully, we will do that.
Q: Generally, do you want give a big contract to send a message to your team?
NC: In terms of how much you play a player and what kind of message that sends, I am not really sure what that sends. Ultimately, and Bill [Belichick] has said this a number of times, we are going to make the decisions that we feel are best for the organization and however that falls, then that's how it works itself out.
Q: Are you still confident that you have the players currently on this roster at outside linebacker to get you guys where you ultimately want to go?
NC: We feel good about any player that's on this team. We feel good about them and there is a reason that they are here. There are a number of people that are working … Shawn [Crable] hasn't been out there yet, but when he gets out there, we will see what he is able to do. Tully [Banta-Cain], AD [Adalius Thomas], Pierre [Woods], Rob Ninkovich - who we just brought in the other day - in the end, everybody has a job to do. Their role is going to be determined by how they perform on the field. In the end, we will put the people out there that we feel give us the best chance to win. We are confident with the players that we have. Otherwise, they wouldn't be here.
Q: Have you evaluated Michael Vick as a potential fit in your system?
NC: At this time of the year, there are a number of players that are out there on the street. We go through our department and we try to establish our - whatever it is - emergency list, street list. There are a number of players that aren't on other teams so you evaluate whether it's Michael Vick, or Andrew Walter, was a case of a player who had been on the street so that market is large. You try to minimize the number of players and say, "OK, if A happens; OK, what are we going to do?" There are a number of players that we evaluate Karen [Guregian], not only Michael Vick. So I wouldn't say there is anything that specific to him.
Q: You mentioned the uncertainty of the CBA. Have you found any agents, or heard from your colleagues on agents looking for guaranteed pay?
NC: Yeah, you know Ron [Borges], I haven't really heard much of that from the agents. I would say during the summer here, Floyd [Reese] has dealt with a lot of the agents as is relates to some of the contracts and those kinds of things. But as far as what they are actually looking for, I don't think anyone has been specific about it because they don't even know. So it is hard for them to say - well, whether it is guaranteed or whatever it might be - there is uncertainty on the club level and I think there is uncertainty on the agent level as well. Hopefully, in the end, there is kind of a happy medium and a space that we can come to some agreement. But I wouldn't say there has been anything specific that relates to that, to my knowledge.
Q: Does that uncertainty on both sides make it a lot more difficult to made deals?
NC: It can be because I think the agents may be looking for one thing and the club may be looking for another thing. But until we say, "OK, here is what the agreement is and here is what the CBA says," you just have to be careful about how you put things together.
Q: Is Michael Vick amongst those still on your list of possibilities? Or in a more general sense you might not consider a player at one point but maybe a week or two later?
NC: With any player, it can change from one practice to the next practice. If something comes up during practice that you didn't necessarily plan for you need to have an answer for. I think it is very general and not necessarily specific to one particular player.
Q: You're obviously not very old…
NC: Some people told me otherwise, that I look a lot older. Trust me, I have some grays up top. You can't see them from here, but that's alright.
Q: Are there any experiences you have been through or learning processes that you can say prepared you for this job?
NC: It'd be hard for me to pin-point. I think I have worked with a lot of very good people when I came in, in 2001. I was working for Scott [Pioli], but then I actually started working for the offensive staff that year so I was working with Charlie [Weis]. I have been fortunate to work with a number of great people since I've been here and have been given some opportunities. I just try to make the most of those opportunities. My philosophy is each day to take it as its own entity, try work hard and just try to be a good listener. Look, I don't have all the answers and I am never going to claim that I have all the answers. I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I've been able to take a lot of different people and being around Coach Belichick, he has been valuable to me. I think Bill and I have developed a good working relationship and I am pretty fortunate to be where I am today and - god willing - it will continue moving forward. Nothing is guaranteed. I know I have a job to do and I need to perform my job to the best of my ability and hopefully that will be good enough.
Q: How much do you miss Josh McDaniels?
NC: Josh [McDaniels] and I go back a long ways. He was in my wedding. Josh and I had a great relationship; we've had a great relationship. We've known each other for a long time and I've got a lot of respect for Josh, not only as a person, but as a coach. Just like anything else, there is change that takes place every year. Yeah, am I sad to see him go? Sure. But the reality is that's life. That's life in the NFL. That's the business and profession we chose. We will still stay in contact I am sure. Josh has been a great friend to me and I have learned quite a bit from Josh, being around him, being a football coach and as a person as well.
Q: When you look at Josh, obviously, he is an NFL head coach now. Does that appeal to you at all going back to the coaching side?
NC: I can't even think that far ahead, there is too much. I am just trying to get through tonight's practice. Whatever opportunities present themselves, then that's down the road. I am worried about the now and the present and go from there.