Since the 2020s started, the Houston Texans have not been a particularly successful franchise. Since 2020, the man that was the head coach for the season-ending game found himself shortly unemployed. Romeo Crennel, David Culley and Lovie Smith lasted for a season or less. Additionally, the team has been through three general managers in the same time span, although since 2021, there has been a bit more stability in that position. After the one season reign of error from Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby, Nick Caserio has been holding down the GM spot since 2021.
Given the rapid turn-around in the Texans’ fortunes in 2023, it would be a safe bet that DeMeco Ryans will not have to worry about Black Monday. He is more likely to be at the NFL Awards Ceremony in February as a prime candidate for winning Coach of the Year. Granted, some assistants might be out the door, but for a good reason (see offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik). Yet, even with the success of the team, mainly on the strength of successful personnel moves in free agency and the draft, along with the change in coaching leadership, there is a chance that the Texans might still spend another off-season looking for another key front office figure, this time a GM.
If certain corners of the NFL rumor-verse are to be believed, Nick Caserio might not be long for Houston. Would seem a strange statement to say, given that his all-in gamble in the 2023 NFL draft of drafting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. back-to-back has paid off, and the draft compensation he sent to Arizona will not cost the team as much as originally feared. Additionally, there is little reporting about any particular friction between Nick Caserio and the rest of the Texans’ front office. Given that ever since Cal McNair took over for his late father, Nick Caserio had been the #1 candidate for the Texans GM spot, and while he likely owes his position to the internal workings of the disgraced Easterby, his work since the fall of the Easterby has kept him in the good graces of the McNair family.
No, the Texans would not be the issue. The likely culprit for any potential move from Houston will be Nick Caserio’s old employer, the New England Patriots. As much as the Texans have seen their fortunes increase for the better, it is the complete opposite for the Patriots. The dynastic run from 2001-2019 is long dead. The team has fallen to its worst record in the Kraft era and much of the press surrounding the team indicates that Bill Belichick’s time in New England is at an end.
While Caserio is not in line for the coaching gig, the power structure in New England is likely to change drastically this season, especially if Belichick departs. Along with being head coach, Belichick has been the de facto GM for the squad; with men like Caserio, when he was in New England, working under Belichick overseeing player/personnel. Winning six Super Bowls bore that model out, but given the struggles of New England to draft and develop talent post-Brady, that model is likely to end. Along with a new head coach, New England will likely be in the market for a new, stand-alone GM.
Enter Caserio. He knows the “Patriot Way” as well as any, being a part of the dynastic run. While his time in Houston has not been perfect, he can point to a stronger draft record in Houston vs. New England, even if he had the benefit of better draft pick positions. Additionally, his free agency moves offered high reward and relatively low risk, getting Houston out of a bad cap and draft situation, leaving the team in far better shape than when he first arrived.
Granted, much of the reporting is coming from that NFL “insider” Jason La Canfora. His accuracy...well, reference the expression “sometimes a blind squirrel...” Twice, in no less a publication than the Washington Post, La Canfora writes of rumors that after the season, the Patriots will make Caserio the offer he can’t refuse. Thing is, outside of this reporting, there are no other discussions of this. It is also possible that La Canfora is reporting about speculation from his sources, but that speculation lacks hard facts.
Perhaps “Black Monday” may offer some clarification. Should Belichick make his expected departure from New England, and Kraft is out for a new GM, then maybe this reporting picks up steam. Yet, while the allure of returning “home” is strong, the Texans are hardly the reigning NFL suck unit. With the likely cornerstones in place of CJ Stroud, Will Anderson Jr, Laremy Tunsil, along with DeMeco Ryans, a full complement of draft picks and an estimated $72M in cap space, much of that the result of Caserio’s work, would he really leave all of that behind, just as things are getting good? If nothing else, Caserio could leverage that interest into a nice new contract, with a lot more money.
Maybe this amounts to something, or maybe this is like so much of
La Canfora the internet’s reporting...all thunder, but no lightning. With the team on the brink of a surprise playoff berth, the status of the GM is not exactly in the top 100 of fans’, or the organization’s, priorities. Still, it might be worth watching, if only to laugh at those who report this stuff for a living...only to then realize that they get paid way more money than you and...and...well, anyway. Go Texans, and hopefully, we don’t see the organization needlessly shoot itself in the foot...again.