On June 6, 2019, the 2018 incarnation of the New England Patriots received their Super Bowl rings in a ceremony held at the private home of team owner Robert Kraft. The event commemorated the Pats record-tying sixth Super Bowl Championship, via a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. While the pomp, circumstance and ‘bling’ were the most prominent highlights, the evening has now taken on a different type of significance.

Both current and former teammates, coaches and personnel members were in attendance last Thursday. While this is typically a rather mundane detail for an event such as this, the interaction between two attendees apparently has caught the attention of the Patriots organization. As a result, it has now come to the attention of the NFL, as well.

Former Patriots character coach and current Houston Texans executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby has been a long-time friend of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.  As both were members of the 2018 Patriots staff, each was present at the party. However, the usually-benign socializing between two friends has seemed to spark a cause for concern among New England’s brain-trust.

Just one day removed from the ceremony, the Houston Texans fired general manager Brian Gaine, following an 11-5 finish to the 2018 season. The Texans won the AFC South division and earned a spot in the 2018 NFL Playoffs.

In the aftermath of Gaine’s firing, the spotlight shined squarely on Caserio, as a possible replacement.  The Texans, coached by another friend of Caserio’s, (former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien) had tried to interview Caserio for positions within the organization in previous years. However, the Patriots had denied their request.

With rumors of mutual interest starting to swirl, the Patriots seemingly drew a proverbial line in the sand on Wednesday.  The team filed tampering charges against the Houston Texans for the attempted general manager hire of Caserio. The league now is expected to gather relevant information to open its investigation against Houston, as multiple media outlets have now reported.

Caserio has been New England’s director of player personnel since 2008. Easterby and Caserio are represented by the same agent, Bob LaMonte. While the Patriots attempt at proving any type of tampering or collusion will be problematic at best, the interaction between the two seems to have at least raised the eye of those within the organization, especially factoring in the timing of Gaine’s firing.

The NFL’s anti-tampering policy states, “Any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFLis impermissible.”

At present, the Texans have requested permission to interview Caserio for their GM position. However, sources indicate that they have not yet been granted permission.

 

Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media.  He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC

 

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