Patriots 3 & Out: Why would Nick Caserio even want to leave for Texans?

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry
NBC Sports Boston

Patriots 3 & Out: Why would Nick Caserio even want to leave for Texans? originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Between OTA's, minicamps, free-agent signings, and potential contract extensions, there's no offseason for Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry. So every Friday, they're going to tackle three Patriots-related questions. It could be issues facing the 2019 team, league-wide debates, or something a little more off-the-wall. Here's this week's 3 & Out...

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Why would Nick Caserio even want to leave?

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Curran: It's a valid question. The guy has been here since 2001 as chief cook and bottle washer.

In that time, he's been part of six Super Bowl wins and nine AFC Championships. He is the right-hand man to Bill Belichick as Director of Player Personnel and has been that since 2008.

But the job is what it is. Even with the amount of latitude he's given in preparing for the draft and free agency, he's not building the team Nick Caserio wants but the one Bill Belichick wants. When the Jets hired Joe Douglas last week and gave him $3M - surely a rate higher than Caserio - it probably gave pause. As it must for Caserio when he sees guys who came up alongside or under him like Lions GM Bob Quinn or Titans GM Jon Robinson running their own gigs and having the autonomy to build something rather than be part of something that is virtually self-sustaining.

Meanwhile, the 43-year-old Caserio has to look at the landscape here and wonder what the state of the team may be when Belichick and Brady shuffle into retirement.

And also wonder whether he's even the individual next in line to run things. 

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Perry: I feel like I'm a John C. Reilly "Step Brothers" GIF reading through Tom's reasons for why Caserio would at least be interested to listen to Houston's offer. "Yep ... Yep ... Yep."

When I consider this situation, I always come back to Tom's final point. You don't get into the positions members of the Patriots brain trust occupy, you don't experience the kind of success they have, without being pragmatic. Even coming off of another championship, there has to be an understanding at One Patriots Place that this run isn't going to last forever.

So can you blame anyone for being curious as to what might be out there in terms of other opportunities? Particularly opportunities that might come with greater responsibility and a salary bump?

Even if Caserio ultimately wanted to stick in New England, an interview for a general manager position might provide him with the leverage he needs to improve his situation with his current employer.

Bottom line: There are an abundance of reasons for him to be open to the possibility of landing in Houston. The question is whether or not he's eligible to do so. Which is why we're now wading through the NFL's anti-tampering policy...

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The NFL's PI clarification makes great sense… 

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Curran: So this is what the league came up with after conversations with anybody who had a mouth and an opinion.

In short, in the final two minutes there will be a replay review for PI if someone clearly gets clubbed. Nothing gets overturned unless said clubbing was unanimously obvious to 50 drunks in a bar. Hail Mary passes will be subject to the same criteria after there being talk that the Hail Mary would not be subject to review. All seems fine with me in theory.

But in practice? Will they review and throw on a play like this, the final Hail Mary of Super Bowl 52 or would the clearing out of Chris Hogan be illegal contact and not enforceable?

I am in the minority it seems in embracing PI review. It's been an embarrassment to have the least informed people watching the game be the ones making the calls when there was a way to fix it. But it's still going to have a few, shall we say, bugs… For fun, here's a bunch of PI video examples from NFL Operations.

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Perry: No issues here! Should play out seamlessly! Really looking forward to there being no officiating controversy whatsoever in the most critical moments of football games! What a weight lifted off the shoulders of football fans and their teams. What a time to be alive.

And as excited as I am for the league to treat game-changing plays in the final two minutes differently than they do the other 93 percent of the time, what I truly cannot wait to witness is a head coach - who has the ability to challenge pass-interference calls in the first 28 minutes of each half - maintain a zen-like calm in the waning seconds of a game even when the "stricter criteria" for pass interference review benefits his opponent when it matters most. What a remarkable show of poise and sportsmanship that will be.

The league could simply make every play reviewable, force coaches to use their challenge flags strategically if they want to be able to challenge a pass interference penalty late, and call the game the same way throughout. But why mess with perfection?

What we have here, clearly, is a fool-proof plan with which everyone will be perfectly satisfied - not only for 2019 but for years to come. Bravo.

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 Tom voted for SB49 and SB51 as the two greatest games in NFL history. Homer?

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Curran: Come on. Seriously? The Patriots win over the Falcons was an overtime game that featured the most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history.

It featured mind-boggling plays - the Julian Edelman and Julio Jones catches - and was a 60-plus minute synopsis of what has made the Patriots the Patriots. Relentlessness.

And SB49 ended with the Malcolm Butler interception after the would-be dynastic Seahawks got down to the Patriots 1-yard line with time ticking down. That was a truly great Seahawks team and Tom Brady put up 14 points on them in the fourth quarter to erase the 24-14 deficit. Absolutely gripping game.

Immaculate Reception game? It wasn't a Super Bowl, the final score was 13-7 and the Steelers didn't wind up even going to the Super Bowl.

The Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl? Loved it. And there were indelible plays made but it was the Cardinals, who went 9-7 that year.

Super Bowl III The Guarantee? Kind of a snoozefest. I feel OK about where I went. Oh, and these are polls that are being run by the AP in celebration of the NFL's 100-year anniversary. 

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Perry: If I argue Tom isn't a homer, does that then make me a homer? It is, in my opinion, hard to argue with his choices here.

The "28-3" game has to be a runaway favorite for the No. 1 choice, doesn't it? For that to have happened, on that stage, with the league MVP on one side and arguably the greatest player in league history on the other makes it remarkable for reasons beyond even the unfathomable series of events required to make that kind of comeback possible in the first place.

I think there are arguments to be made for other games at No. 2. Super Bowl XLIX would probably be my choice, again because of the players, coaches, teams and stakes involved. Not to mention it ended on what might be named by AP voters the No. 1 play in the league's 100-year history.

But I could see the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl being the choice for some since it probably had a greater number of memorable plays than that Patriots-Seahawks matchup.

The Patriots-Panthers Super Bowl might be up there for some because of the back-and-forth nature of that second half. Of course there may be West Coasters who go with "The Catch" or Broncos honks who ride with "The Drive," but these rankings should give Super Bowls more weight.

The fact of the matter is the best Super Bowls ever played have occurred in the last decade.

Click here for post-minicamp Patriots' 53-man roster projection>>>>

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