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Should Nick Caserio be the Patriots first general manager since 1990?

Nick Caserio could receive a promotion with another franchise. The Patriots should get there first.

New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been a hot ticket in recent years. Former proteges of Bill Belichick have turned franchises into contenders, like Lions general manager Bob Quinn and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Caserio has spurned promotions with other franchises to remain in New England as Belichick’s right hand man.

Maybe it’s time to give the man a promotion.

Despite not having the general manager (GM) title, Caserio is still compensated like a GM according to a great piece from the Herald’s Jeff Howe- but what if a team offers Caserio the title and more money?

“Caserio, who is under contract with the Patriots through at least 2020, makes about $2 million per year, according to a source,” Howe writes. “It’s decent money, but don’t underestimate a team like the 49ers that may covet him so passionately that they would offer double his salary.”

Caserio interviewed for the Miami Dolphins general manager role after the 2013 season, and he turned down an interview with the Indianapolis Colts after 2011. There’s a chance that Caserio is using these interviews as leverage points for more money, but the Patriots don’t have to risk losing Caserio to another franchise; it’s not like free agency with players and a salary cap.

The Patriots are already at risk of losing both coordinators as Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia interview for head coaching positions. Losing Caserio would be another loss- and one that could have the greatest impact on the Patriots.

“Caserio...orchestrated recent trades for tight end Martellus Bennett, cornerback Eric Rowe and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Barkevious Mingo,” Howe writes. “And Caserio’s pro personnel department properly scouted linebacker Shea McClellin, defensive end Chris Long and Hogan before the offseason signings.”

Caserio has done an excellent job of identifying talent over the years and has been crucial to the team’s continued success. With Quinn joining the Lions this past offseason, the heir to Caserio is like director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort. The team likes Ossenfort, but he’ll have a lot to learn before he’s ready to assume Caserio’s role; not only does Caserio lead the scouting department, he also handles the contract negotiations, like swiping then-restricted free agent WR Chris Hogan away from the Bills.

So the Patriots should do one of two things: they should match whatever contract the 49ers or another franchise offers; or they should name Caserio the Patriots first general manager since Patrick Sullivan back in 1990.

Pay the Man

This past summer, the Seattle Seahawks extended GM John Schneider on a contract worth $3.75 million per year. The fact that Caserio is only on a deal worth $2 million per year is crazy; any team could offer Caserio a deal for $4 million per year and that would seem reasonable. If the Patriots need to pay Caserio to make him stay, they should do it.

Promote the Man

The Patriots have not had a general manager since Patrick Sullivan in the year 1990. To put that in context: the Patriots have not had a general manager since I’ve been alive.

Back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the Patriots went through some ownership changes. Billy Sullivan sold the team to Victor Kiam in 1988, who went bankrupt and sold the team to James Orthwein in 1992. Kiam hired Sam Jankovich as team CEO in 1990 and left the team in ruins two years later.

Orthwein hired Bill Parcells in 1993 with the express goal of moving the team to St. Louis, but it was Parcells that set the tone for not really having a general manager. While Robert Kraft wanted to divide the coaching role from the personnel role, with Bobby Grier serving as director of player personnel for the later Parcell years and for Pete Carroll, Kraft dropped that opinion in order to hire Bill Belichick.

But whether it was Grier, or Scott Pioli, or Nick Caserio (that’s actually it, dating back to 1995), the Patriots have not had general managers; they’ve had directors or vice presidents of player personnel.

If it’s the title that Caserio wants, more than the money, then the Patriots should give it to him. Belichick is so entrenched in the fabric of the team that there would never be doubt about who was running the team. And teams like the Seahawks and Chiefs operate with a general manager following the lead of the head coach; it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Additionally, if Caserio receives the title of “general manager”, then teams will no longer be allowed to interview him without the team’s permission. That would prevent Caserio from getting to the second round of interviews with divisional rivals like the Dolphins in the future.

So whether Caserio gets a pay raise (which he should already have and is likely the ultimate goal), or wants the official title of general manager, the Patriots should be pretty happy to acquiesce.