Patriots File Tampering Charges Against Texans Over Nick Caserio
The Patriots have "filed tampering charges" against the Texans for the "attempted" GM hire of Patriots Dir of Player Personnel Nick Caserio, according to sources cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Sources said that the NFL now is "expected to gather relevant information to open its investigation" against the Texans. The Texans fired GM Brian Gaine the night after the Patriots' Super Bowl ring ceremony on June 6. Former Patriots team chaplain and current Texans Exec VP/Team Development Jack Easterby "attended that party, as did Caserio" (ESPN.com, 6/12). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted the "gloves officially have been dropped" over Caserio. The Texans "could face punishment" if it is proven that they talked to Caserio about their GM opening "without permission from the Patriots to do so" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/12).
JUST SMALL TALK? In Houston, John McClain writes the Patriots have "declared all-out war against the Texans." Easterby "spent the last six years working for the Patriots and is close friends with Caserio, as is Texans coach Bill O’Brien." It therefore "makes sense they would be chatting at the team’s celebration, and the league will have to find evidence Easterby violated the anti-tampering policy." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick are "making every effort to keep Caserio." He is Belichick’s "right-hand man and has become invaluable to the Patriots in personnel and coaching" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/13). NFL Network's Peter Schrager said this is as "juicy as it gets as far as off-seasons go" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 6/13). In Boston, Kevin Duffy notes in the offseason, it is "unclear if the Patriots are able to block the Texans from interviewing Caserio." It is a "matter of whether Caserio can be defined as a 'high-level employee.'" If Caserio can be classified as a such, the Patriots are "under no obligation to grant permission for another team to interview him." If Caserio is not classified as a high-level employee, the Patriots "cannot deny him the opportunity to discuss" a GM opportunity (BOSTON HERALD, 6/13).
PAY THE PRICE:NBC's Florio said the Patriots are "at a minimum suspicious, or maybe they have some evidence to show that the Texans did indeed tamper with Caserio." Florio: "Either way, it's on." The people who are "aware of the dynamics between the organizations and the personalities involved believe the end result is going to be a deal between the Texans and the Patriots for compensation" for the Texans to hire Caserio. The "more evidence they have of tampering the more they're going to get from the Texans" ("PFT," NBCSN, 6/13). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said a "possible solution" is the two teams "exchanging draft pick compensation" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 6/13).
LOOMING LARGE: In Boston, Volin & McBride note the battle over whether Caserio is considered a high-level employee "shows that the fight over Caserio is getting nasty." Apparently, the relationship between the Patriots and O’Brien "isn’t as rosy as we had thought" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/13). Also in Boston, Karen Guregian notes while Caserio "performs a million duties worthy of a general manager and beyond, he doesn’t have the title." He has been "happy in New England," but he has "always had the desire to run a team on his own" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/13). NBC SPORTS BOSTON's Tom Curran wrote the "bone over which the two franchises will now fight -- Caserio -- finds himself in an uncomfortable position." Curran: "I don’t know if I’ve encountered a more principled, ego-free, honest, hardworking executive with the Patriots than Caserio in the time I’ve covered the team" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 6/12).
GOOD THINKING: In Houston, Brian Smith writes he is "sure the not-so-hidden pursuit" of Caserio will be "worth this heavy public price." The NFL's investigation will "likely be centered around" O’Brien, Easterby and Texans Chair & CEO Cal McNair. The move by the Patriots is an "oddly timed power play that is still leading the NFL’s national news cycle." If the Texans are 100% "innocent and they end up with Caserio," they will still have to "win it all to make Gaine’s firing make sense." No matter where this goes, it "clearly has not been handled right" (HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 6/12).
LEGAL MATTERS: In Houston, Aaron Wilson notes former Texans Security Coordinator Jeff Pope has "filed a discrimination lawsuit" with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission against the Texans, though the team has "denied his allegation." Pope was "dismissed by the Texans on May 8" after being hired by the team in '17. The Texans have "emphasized that Gaine's dismissal is unrelated to Pope's complaint" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/13).