The Houston Texans covet New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. However, Patriots coach Bill Belichick could have a few tricks up his sleeves on blocking Caserio from interviewing with the Texans.
Henry McKenna, managing editor for the Patriots Wire, penned a piece on For The Win that lists two ways that Belichick could thwart the best laid plans of Cal McNair and Bill O’Brien.
Because Caserio’s duties in New England are hugely expansive and yet also fairly undefined, Belichick could claim a pair of things to block the interview. The NFL allows teams to block interviews in season (which is what happened last January) or if the person being requested is already a “high-level” employee. The NFL defines that as someone who reports directly to the owner — which is not the case with Caserio — or who has significant duties.
In this case, Belichick could claim that Caserio “(i) is the primary authority over all personnel decisions related to the signing of free agents, the selection of players in the College Draft, trades, and related decisions; and (ii) the primary responsibility for coordinating other football activities with the head coach.” That would qualify Caserio as a high-level club employee. Team’s are allowed to stop other teams from hiring away a high-level club employee. However, Belichick may not want to relinquish his final say as primary authority. So…
Belichick could concede that Caserio is not a “high-level” part of the Patriots but block the interview by contending that the Texans don’t actually plan on making Caserio a high-level employee.
In this scenario, Belichick could seek an understanding of the Texans power dynamic for Caserio. If, upon joining Houston, Caserio was also not the “primary authority,” and instead was forced to report to O’Brien, then Caserio would not be getting the title of “high-level club employee.” Because moving from New England to Houston wouldn’t be a promotion, Belichick might be able to block the interview. (Though it’s hard to imagine Caserio would want to join the Texans in a “GM light” role.”)
Belichick doesn’t have a history of rejecting interviews — in fact he let Caserio talk to the 49ers in 2017. So perhaps the Patriots coach will be more open to the idea at this point in the season. Perhaps he will let Caserio walk.
Belichick is 5-0 against O’Brien on the field. It wouldn’t be shocking for Belichick to earn a win against his former assistant off the field, too.
The problem if Belichick protects Caserio is where it leaves Houston. Where do they go from here when they have had their sights set on adding Caserio?