Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio speaks to the media during his introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
John P. Lopez – Caserio should respond to these rumors … after all, he helped start them
An old adage tells us that rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and believed by idiots.
Then again, the modern-day philosophizing of A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera told us: “Say something. I’m giving up on you.”
Let’s go with that one. Say something, Nick.
It’s time. It’s past time. And the clock on the wall clearly tells us the longer that the scintillating rumor this week about Texans general manager Nick Caserio lingers, the more believable it will become. There are rumors and then there are rumors.
And while it might be a fool’s errand to dispel every myth and fable that pops up, the one that surfaced this week was a doozy: After the NFL Draft, Nick Caserio will move on from the Texans and perhaps reunite with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
A fable? Maybe. There is, however, reason to believe it could be much more than that.
One well-plugged-in NFL analyst and former executive, Michael Lombardi, who worked with Caserio in New England, said on the GM Shuffle Podcast: “There’s a longer game to be played in Houston… I think there will be some organizational changes in Houston after the draft. I’m not saying people will be fired, but organizationally things will be shifted.”
Meanwhile, Gallery Sports columnist John McClain said on Sports Radio 610: “I had someone tell me at the NFL Combine that Caserio is going to return to New England after the draft.”
While McClain did not put much credence in the rumor, saying it made no sense, he did say that the someone with whom he spoke was a longtime member of an AFC front office.
In the midst of the NFL Draft’s “lying season,” it’s not uncommon to hear an assortment of wild and speculative rumors and reports. But this one has nothing to do with the Draft, who’s liking who, which prospects are rising and falling. This is about the general manager who steered the Texans through its darkest time moving on.
It’s a doozy, indeed, and why what really makes no sense is to completely disregard and ignore it – especially when Caserio himself more than hinted at such a possibility when the Texans launched the search for a new head coach in January.
“If ultimately the best thing for the organization is for me not to be in that (general manager) position, then I have to accept that and acknowledge that,” Caserio said. “If whomever we hire or whomever we decide upon doesn’t feel that my role or the position that I’m in is appropriate for what we want to do moving forward, I understand that and I can accept that.”
He also said, “the clock is ticking” on his tenure and that the hiring of a new coach would include, “more voices” than just his.
The coach the Texans ultimately hired, of course, was DeMeco Ryans, who had no real history or relationship with Caserio prior to coming together in Houston. And while there is no indication Caserio was not integral in hiring Ryans and perhaps even ran the point on the decision, in his own words, there were more voices involved.
That’s not what he signed up for and certainly not the best assurance to commit long-term to the Texans. Ryans, meanwhile, has established his influence. He’s the strongest voice in the building, not Caserio.
As for why Caserio would leave a $5 million-per-year job in Houston, there has been growing sentiment in New England, where Caserio spent 20 years, that Belichick is either willing to give up or will be forced by owner Robert Kraft to give up GM duties.
There also is speculation that Belichick, 70, will retire after the 2024 season, when he is expected to break Don Shula’s all-time NFL wins record. With an opportunity to return to the Patriots and be the GM alongside friend and former Texans coach Bill O’Brien — and likely succeed Belichick as the strongest voice in that building – the clock indeed could be ticking in Houston.
In New England, Caserio would have familiar ground, familiar faces, a team that would be wholly his and perhaps eventually even the Caserio-O’Brien partnership he thought he would get in Houston.
It’s true Caserio has a dream job in Houston, but a good amount of uncertainty has grown in just the past year. Ryans’ coaching staff was much more Ryans’ call than Caserio’s. It’s also clear Caserio lost points when he failed to trade disgruntled receiver Brandin Cooks before the 2022 trade deadline, mishandled Cooks by keeping him active and losing the No. 1 pick in the draft at the end of the season and then missed a chance to trade up with Chicago for the No. 1 pick. And what about the huge decision with what to do with the No. 2 overall pick?
It’s vital Caserio finds a quarterback. Entering the third year of a six-year contract, Caserio has to show ownership progress and buy himself some time and equity by bringing in a new quarterback. Ryans is not so much in a hurry. He easily could focus more on defense and complementary personnel this year, accumulate an arsenal of young talent and build toward drafting or acquiring a franchise quarterback in 2024. Maybe there’s a difference of opinion on the No. 2 pick, which is a battle Caserio cannot win if he wants to fight it.
And maybe it’s all just rumors. Maybe Caserio will lead the Texans in 2023 and for years beyond.
But you would think with so much on the line, Caserio would offer a comment, a statement, a press release, something. Anything.
Say something. The longer you’re quiet, the more it seems the Texans just might be giving up on you. Or vice versa.