After already losing director of player personnel Nick Caserio earlier last week, the New England Patriots appeared to be on the verge of losing his assistant: the Denver Broncos had interviewed Dave Ziegler for their vacant general manager position. However, the 43-year-old has reportedly decided to stay put and committed to New England after a meeting with Bill Belichick on Sunday morning.
Ziegler not following Caserio’s example and leaving the organization is good news for the Patriots, for three simple reasons.
Reason No. 1: The Nick Caserio succession plan
The Patriots’ front office will be without one of its most valuable members moving forward after Caserio decided to take his talents to the Houston Texans. The 45-year-old, who has been with the organization since 2001 and part of all six of its Super Bowl winning teams, decided to leave his position as New England’s director of player personnel last week to take over as Houston’s next general manager.
Caserio had served in his role as the Patriots’ director of player personnel since 2008, and as such was Belichick’s right-hand man and co-architect of three championship teams. Most importantly, though, he was a jack of all trades: Caserio filled numerous roles, and as such left no clear succession plan in place — at least until last offseason.
After he signed a contract extension that kept him in New England one year longer, the Patriots decided to elevate Ziegler from director of pro personnel — a role he had held for the previous four seasons — to assistant director of player personnel. As such, the road was clear: in case Caserio ever left, Ziegler would be the top candidate to replace him. Him staying put and not joining the Broncos further strengthens this belief.
Reason No. 2: The front office stability
Regardless of the title of his eventual new role — the Patriots, as has been pointed out numerous times in the past, are not necessarily keen on titles and have their staff members wear numerous hats — keeping Ziegler secures that the highest level of the organization stays at least somewhat intact after Caserio’s departure. With him and Belichick at least staying put, the blow of Caserio leaving gets softened a bit.
However, that does not mean any follow-up moves will be made. For one, as noted above, Ziegler’s title and eventual role is not yet set. Furthermore, the Patriots have still not replaced college scouting director Monti Ossenfort after he left to join the Tennessee Titans last year. On top of it all, there is no telling whether or not Caserio will try to poach some of his former co-workers to join him in Houston.
All that said, the stability at the top of the organization is still secured.
Reason No. 3: The quick turnaround
While free agency will not begin until March 17, the Patriots will have to make some major decisions over the coming weeks: a significant portion of their roster is headed for the open market — including team captains Cam Newton, David Andrews, James White, Lawrence Guy and Jason McCourty. On top of it all, any additional moves will have to be planned with the quarterback position in particular standing out.
As things currently stand, after all, the Patriots have only backup Jarrett Stidham under contract for the 2021 season. They will need to make some franchise-defining calls over the next few weeks, and having a clear structure in place can only help this process. Sure, losing Caserio hurt, but based on Ziegler’s promotion last year the Patriots were anticipating such a move to happen at one point.
Him staying a part of the inner circle in terms of decision making now ensures that the club’s quick turnaround into a pivotal offseason can go comparatively seamless.