Caserio Introduced As Texans GM Amid Watson Trade Rumors

Caserio Introduced As Texans GM Amid Watson Trade Rumors

HOUSTON: Nick Caserio’s introductory news conference as the Houston Texans’ general manager was dominated by questions about whether Deshaun Watson wants out.

Caserio, a longtime executive with the New England Patriots, was hired on Thursday to replace Bill OBrien, who served as both coach and general manager until he was fired after this seasons 0-4 start.

The first question Caserio fielded from reporters on Friday was what he thought about reports that Watson the franchise quarterback and one of the only bright spots in a dismal 4-12 season is unhappy with the direction of the team and wants to be traded.

Hes our quarterback, and again, once we have an opportunity, spend some time together, well have further discussions, Caserio said. I cant tell you how much respect and administration that I have for him, for who he is as a player and what he means to this franchise.

It was then that team owner Cal McNair jumped in to discuss Watsons future. After welcoming Caserio to Houston, McNair talked about Watson and fellow disgruntled star J.J. Watt, who has been noncommittal when asked if he wants to stay.

In regards to 4 (Watson) and 99 (Watt), theyre valued members on our team, McNair said. Theyre important to the team and the city. Theyre passionate and they want to win, and those are all totally in alignment with where were going and what weve done here in bringing Nick aboard. So, its perfect. Were totally aligned.

Watson was named to his third straight Pro Bowl this season and set franchise records by throwing for an NFL-leading 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns.

McNair denied report from ESPN and NFL Network that he didnt take Watsons opinion into consideration before hiring Caserio.

Ive come to understand that its been reported that Deshaun feels left out of the process, but he and I had several visits and I understood his point of view before meeting with candidates, McNair said. Ive reached out to Deshaun about Nicks hire and I look forward to him getting back to me when he returns (from vacation).

Caserio has spent the last 20 seasons with the Patriots and has been the director of player personnel in New England since 2008. The Patriots reached the Super Bowl nine times and won the title six times during Caserios 20 seasons with the team. They won the AFC East title 17 times during Caserios time in New England.

Another hot topic for Caserio on Friday was the role of another former Patriots employee, Jack Easterby, Houstons executive vice president of football operations. Some have questioned whether the Texans gave Easterby, a former chaplain in New England, too much power in the wake of OBriens firing.

Caserio said he has a close relationship with Easterby, before making it clear that Easterby won’t make decisions about the roster.

Any personnel decisions that will be made well make as a group, but ultimately thats a responsibility that Cal has instilled in me, is to handle the personnel side of the football operations, Caserio said. So thats the expectation moving forward. Jack will have a role and well work in conjunction with each other on a number of things for sure. But as it pertains to football decisions, those will ultimately be my decision in conjunction with the head coach.

Houstons next big move is to hire a coach. The Texans have interviewed former NFL coaches Jim Caldwell and Marvin Lewis. But they have not requested an interview with Kansas City offensive coordinator and hot coaching candidate Eric Bieniemy, which is reportedly one of the reasons for Watsons unhappiness.

McNair also took time to address the perception that the young Texans franchise lacks an identity and has tried too hard to emulate the Patriots. Its a criticism that has come up more frequently as fans began to question the decisions of OBrien, a former New England assistant. His trade of superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins in March was almost universally panned, leading some to call for his firing even before the teams terrible start.

We thank the New England Patriots, specifically Robert and Jonathan Kraft and coach (Bill) Belichick, for being a first-class organization that builds winners, McNair said. With respect to their organization, we do not consider ourselves the Patriots South. We are here to lead this team the Texans way.

The question is: What, exactly, is the Texans way? The day after Houstons season ended with a loss to the Titans, Watson called for a whole culture shift in the organization and said the team needed discipline.

Caserio is less interested in whats happened with the team in the past than how to change things moving forward.

Its going to take a lot of work, hard work, being selfless, he said.

And while McNair doesnt want to be too closely tied to the Patriots, he is banking on a man who spent the last two decades with them to revamp his sagging franchise.

Its a great day to be a Texan because this is a big break, McNair said. This guy sitting next to me, Nick Caserio, has extreme competency, and well work together, well cooperate, well collaborate … and that will get us the fastest to where we want to get to.

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