On Wednesday evening, news broke that the New England Patriots and Nick Caserio have agreed to a multi-year contract extension that will keep the club’s director of player personnel in Foxborough beyond the expiration of his contract after this year’s draft. The extension is obviously good news for both parties involved, but let’s dig a little deeper to find out what the deal means from the Patriots’ perspective.
Bill Belichick’s right-hand man stays in New England
Caserio’s title with the Patriots does not necessarily suggest it, but he is the team’s de facto operating general manager — and as such the right-hand man of Bill Belichick, who is leading the football operations department in his dual role as head coach and GM. Caserio therefore plays an important part in the team’s day-to-day operation and roster construction, as this excerpt from a Boston Herald story from 2017 illustrates:
Caserio [...] orchestrated recent trades for tight end Martellus Bennett, cornerback Eric Rowe and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Barkevious Mingo. And Caserio’s pro personnel department properly scouted linebacker Shea McClellin, defensive end Chris Long and [Chris] Hogan before the offseason signings.
Keeping him around beyond 2020 is therefore big news for an organization whose top-three — Belichick (67) quarterback Tom Brady (42), and owner/CEO Robert Kraft (78) — are a lot closer to the end of their respective careers than the beginning.
Retaining Caserio ensures front office continuity
Over the years, the Patriots have seen plenty of departures from their front office: former directors of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff (2008) and Jon Robinson (2013), vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli (2009), and ex-director of pro scouting Bob Quinn (2016) all left New England to take on bigger roles elsewhere. And while they have not found the same success as Caserio — he has earned three Super Bowl rings since 2008 — their departures did still force the team to fill openings on a regular basis.
With Caserio remaining in the fold, one of the Patriots’ most important roles will stay occupied for the foreseeable future. This, in turn, has a trickle-down effect on the organization’s entire front office.
The Patriots will likely pay more than $2 million per year to keep Caserio
Only a few details were known about Caserio’s previous contract in New England, and one of them was his approximate salary: the Patriots were paying him around $2 million per year to serve as their director of player personnel — a considerable number, but one still a step down from other general managers across the league. The New York Jets, for example, gave their GM, Joe Douglas, a deal reportedly worth $3 million annually last offseason.
It is therefore no stretch of the imagination that Caserio’s deal might be similar to Douglas’ in terms of yearly compensation. Furthermore, it would not be a surprise if the team once again included a stipulation that the 44-year-old would not be allowed to interview with other teams: this clause was included in his last deal and led to a tampering dispute between the Patriots and the Houston Texans in 2019.
The focus can now shift to Monti Ossenfort
With Caserio remaining under contract, the Patriots can now shift their attention to another front office member: Monti Ossenfort, the team’s director of college scouting since 2014. As has been the case with Caserio’s previous deal, Ossenfort is scheduled to see his own expire after this year’s draft. But with the first one done, the organization can now try to lock up the 41-year-old long term, who interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ general manager vacancy earlier this offseason.
In case the Patriots and Ossenfort fail to come up with a new deal, director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler — his contract runs through the 2021 draft — and college scouting coordinator Brian Smith appear to be the leading candidates to take over his role atop the college scouting department.