Even before the start of free agency, the New England Patriots suffered a major loss when Nick Caserio decided to join the Houston Texans as their new general manager. A long-time front office executive and the right-hand man of head coach/GM Bill Belichick, Caserio won six Super Bowls during his two decades with the organization.
On Friday, right as Caserio was introduced to the Houston media, the Patriots released a statement on Belichick’s behalf reacting to the departure:
Nick Caserio is one of the hardest working, dependable and team-oriented people I have worked with and his ability to handle a wide array of responsibilities is unique. Nick’s contributions came on a daily basis and ultimately led to years of success and six championships, for which I am very appreciative. He did an excellent job for us and is extremely deserving of the opportunity to be a general manager.
Caserio first arrived in New England in 2001 and steadily climbed the organizational ladder before taking over as the organization’s director of player personnel in 2008. In that role, he helped build three Super Bowl-winning teams and to lay the foundation for the Patriots’ Dynasty 2.0.
However, the Texans were able to lure him to Houston. How did they do it? By offering him a a six-year deal that is reportedly averaging at least $6 million annually, and by giving him something he never had in New England: full control over the team’s roster.
The Patriots, after all, have been led by Belichick in his dual role as head coach and general manager throughout Caserio’s tenure with the club. While he did rise through the ranks to become the de facto GM and be responsible for a wide range of tasks, that final step was not in the cards for him in New England at this time. It was in Houston, however, and the 45-year-old will now take his talents there to become a first-time general manager.
Caserio will get a chance to work with a legitimate franchise quarterback in Houston — Deshaun Watson — but also enters a team facing plenty of questions heading into the offseason. The Texans, after all, are coming off a 4-12 season and are currently scheduled to be both over the salary cap and not have any draft picks in the first and second round.
As for Belichick and the Patriots, it remains to be seen how they fill the enormous void created by Caserio’s departure. Assistant director of player personnel Nick Ziegler appears to be the logical “next man up,” even though the Denver Broncos have requested an interview with him as well to fill their currently vacant general manager position.