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Patriots file tampering charges against Texans for attempting to hire Nick Caserio

New England is not happy with Houston going after its de facto general manager.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Houston Texans fired Brian Gaine last Friday, they are in the market for a new general manager. They have set their sights on a familiar name: Nick Caserio. This is, of course, not the first time the club is after the New England Patriots’ director of player personnel. Before hiring Gaine last January, after all, Houston asked the Patriots if it could conduct an interview with Caserio. New England declined the request at the time.

The Texans ultimately settled on Gaine but with him no longer part of the organization are again trying to get Caserio on board — and are now accused of violating the NFL’s anti-tampering rules because of their efforts: as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have filed tampering charges against Houston for its pursuit of Caserio. The NFL is now “expected to gather relevant informant to open its investigation against Houston.”

Two key elements of this investigation will be the timing of Gaine’s firing and the role of former Patriots team chaplain/character coach Jack Easterby.

Let’s go through it step by step. Easterby left the Patriots after their Super Bowl win to pursue other opportunities, which he found in Houston where he was hired as executive vice president of team development in early April. Two months after joining the club, Easterby returned to his previous employer: he was in attendance for New England’s Super Bowl ring ceremony hosted by team owner Robert Kraft last Thursday.

One day later, Gaine was fired and Houston out to get Caserio on board — filing an official interview request on Tuesday; it has not been granted by the Patriots to date. The timing of Gaine’s firing certainly looks suspicious one day after a likely meeting between Easterby and Caserio. New England apparently thinks it is more than just a coincidence, but rather a violation of the league’s anti-tampering policy (p.2):

1. DEFINITION. The term tampering, as used within the National Football League, refers to any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL.

Could Easterby have interfered and spoken with Caserio about potentially joining him in Houston? It certainly is possible, although we know nothing yet but the Patriots filing an official complaint.