Nick Caserio is the nearly irreplaceable Patriots director of player personnel that has remained a huge part of all six Super Bowl titles. And thanks to a recent multi-year extension, they won’t have to try and find someone to fill his role, which would've been the most difficult task of the offseason.
Caserio was set to become a free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft, and having already lost legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to retirement, and with multiple stars set to hit free agency, letting Caserio go would've been cataclysmic. While his job title of “director of player personnel” sounds like a common job, it does not encompass his entire impact on the Patriots organization.
He is the Patriots de facto general manager, yet he also plays a part in virtually all other aspects of the organization. He oversees the Patriots’ pro and college scouting departments, sets up signings and trades, is in the coaches’ booth during games, and he is even a coach on the practice field during the week, primarily with the receivers and quarterbacks.
Belichick is technically the Patriots general manager because he has the final say on the team’s roster, but Caserio took on greater responsibility to allow Belichick to focus on coaching the coordinator-less defense last year. If the Patriots continue to roll without a defensive coordinator, Caserio's role will only grow.
Nick is very well respected by people in the football world, from Patriots coaches to league executives. Everything from his respect of players and staff members to his tireless work ethic is well known to the organization. In fact, he worked so hard it was said early on in his career with the Patriots that he almost never left the building.
“He was one of those people that I would have to tell him, ‘Get home at a decent hour tonight. Get some rest,’ and he never did that,” former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli said via an interview with NESN. His incredible work ethic, which sometimes had him work throughout the night, was easy for Belichick to spot. His commitment was probably the greatest reason why he rose so quickly through the organization.
Caserio has done everything the Patriots have asked him to do. He started out as a special assistant in 2001, before moving to a scouting position two years later. Then just a single year later, he was promoted all the way to the director of pro personnel. He held the position for a few years, then exchanging the position for wide receiving coach in 2007. It was a step down in position, but Belichick asked Caserio to take over after the Patriots lost Brian Daboll to the Jets. Nick, being a team-first guy, agreed to temporarily take over for Daboll until a replacement was found (which would be Bill O'Brien).
Of course, with Caserio at the helm, the receiving group flourished in 2007. The best wideouts from the prior season were gone, so Caserio's job was to take in whatever talent he was given and help them learn a difficult Patriots system. Despite that being an incredibly hard task, he was able to perfectly assimilate their new receivers, with the Patriots top three receivers being on the team for the first time. Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth all became crucial members of the league's best offense, picking up the system perfectly en route to helping Brady win the 2007 MVP award.
Nick would expect the best from his players, nitpicking even on touchdowns to ensure every play and route was ran to perfection. He meticulously planned for the opposing teams secondary, and constantly shifted the receiver's playstyle to combat defenses. He moved back to his director of player personnel role immediately at the end of the season, translating seamlessly back into his old job. Caserio still works with the wide receivers in practice to this day, which will also be useful to the Patriots next year as well with a new wide receivers coach on the team.
Caserio even has the added bonus of having a powerful throwing arm from his time as a college QB. This means he is able to throw to any receivers he is trying out, so he can get the best look possible at any pass-catcher. He knows what he wants to see from any receiver they could potentially draft or sign, so by acting as a quarterback he can get a good feel for the player before making a decision on them.
It is impossible for any other current or former executive to replicate everything Caserio brings to the Patriots. Belichick understood this better than anyone and prioritized resigning him long term. That says something about Nick's importance, as Bill has been pretty chill with letting other staff members go in the past. Belichick has let go of crucial pieces like Scott Pioli, yet he blocked Caserio from leaving last year. He has to be really special for Bill to actually stop a guy from leaving. And that's because to put it simply, he does the work of five people put together, and he does it better than anyone else in the league.