The seemingly annual “Will he or won’t he?” is over: Nick Caserio will indeed leave the New England Patriots to take on another opportunity elsewhere. The fallout of his decision to become the Houston Texans’ next general manager will not become truly visible until much further down the line, if at all, but there is one thing we already do know now.
Caserio leaves the Patriots with an enormous pair of shoes to fill. Well, in fact, he probably leaves them with more than just one unoccupied pair. The 45-year-old, after all, has seemingly done it all over his two decades in New England.
Starting out as a personnel assistant in 2001, Caserio worked his way up the organizational ladder jumping between the coaching and executive staffs. He worked as an offensive coaching assistant in 2002 before moving to area scout one year later. Between 2004 and 2006, he served as director of pro personnel, but took over as wide receivers coach in 2007. By 2008, he was eventually named director of player personnel.
Caserio held that role for 13 years — an eternity by NFL standards. That said, it was not as straight-forward as his titular job description made it seem. The “director of player personnel” title did not do justice to all the work he did within the organization.
For one, he was the Patriots’ de facto general manager and as such the right-hand man of head coach/general manager Bill Belichick. He was responsible for setting up free agency signings and trades, and although Belichick had final say on decisions played therefore an integral role in building the roster year-in and year-out.
Furthermore, Caserio oversaw the team’s scouting departments on both the pro and the college level. This included visiting and working out potential free agency prospects — oftentimes using his history as a college quarterback at John Carroll to conduct those meetings — and being actively involved in the pre-draft preparation. Behind-the-scenes videos from the Patriots’ draft day process always show him as part of the otherwise comparatively small war room.
On top of all those duties, Caserio also was actively involved with the coaching aspect. He sat in the coaches’ booth during game day and was in the ear of offensive coordinator and former college teammate Josh McDaniels’ headset, and also was regularly spotted on the practice fields as well.
The Patriots value versatility, and Caserio embodied it.
“He does a great job in all those areas and has been extremely valuable to me on so many levels for such a long time,” Bill Belichick said about him in 2019. “When things pop up that need to be done, and it’s harder to find maybe a younger person, less experienced person on your staff or in your organization to do those things, you look at him and say, ‘Okay, he can do them,’ and then that maybe allows you to shuffle some things in other areas.”
While Belichick worked closest with Caserio over the last 13 years, his impact on the team as a whole was not lost on the rest of his former colleagues either. Take former Patriots special teams and wide receivers coach Joe Judge, who spoke highly of Caserio before he himself left New England.
“The role that Nick has in [the] building is amazing,” the current New York Giants head coach said. “The fact that he actually transcends all aspects of the organization from the personnel to the coaching, he understands what we’re doing in player development. He’s very involved with players hands-on. I don’t know how many other personnel guys you can say that about.”
The top candidate to take over for Caserio appears to be assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, although there are other candidates as well. But no matter who ends up taking the job — regardless of whether he will take the same approach or have the same impact — one thing is certain.
Replacing Nick Caserio and what he meant to the Patriots organization will be a tall task for all involved. His tireless work ethic and success over the last 20 years have set it up this way, just like Bill Belichick likes it.