Nick Caserio (file photo)
THe Patriots aren't normally ones to talk, especially about their plans for the future. That's why it wasn't much of a surprise Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio was the only member of the organization to speak with reporters. It also wasn't a surprise he didn't reveal much about team plans.
Caserio says little about team's plans
While most teams hold formal press conferences at the NFL
Scouting Combine sending either their head coach or general manager to
the podium, the Patriots have never fallen in line with what most teams
So the guy who holds all the power in New England,
head coach Bill Belichick, is rarely seen in Indy. The only
organizational voice media and fans get to hear from during the
week-long scouting showcase is that of Patriots director of player
personnel Nick Caserio. And it comes not at a podium in front of all
the media and cameras assembled, but often in a discreet session with
local reporters in a corner of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Caserio held just such a meeting Thursday on the
opening day of the action at the 2012 Combine, and in many ways set the
state for the Patriots just more than two weeks after the team's Super
Bowl XLVI defeat at the hands of the Giants at the very same facility
at which he was speaking.
Like the coaches and general managers taking
questions at the podium, Caserio was peppered with queries about New
England's upcoming offseason - including free agency and draft
possibilities. But he wasn't looking to get into specifics about
Pro-Bowl free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker or the potential
retirements of offensive linemen Matt Light and Brian Waters.
"I think we have 17 players or so that are
scheduled to go into free agency," Caserio began, "so, we'll have
dialogue with all of our players and all of their agents. Some have
taken place at different points. But before March 13 (the start of the
new league year and free-agent signing period), we'll have had a
discussion with everybody, and then, we'll figure out exactly where we
are come that day.
"We're so early in the offseason -- the reality is
that the season ended three weeks ago -- so to make a decision in two
or three weeks, whether it's a player or a staff or whatever we do, I
think it's just going to be a part of the process, and I think
everything will take time."
As Caserio noted, free agency starts a bit later
than usual, so, there's a little extra time to make those important
decisions than in prior years, when the league year started the first
weekend of March. And the team's offseason program won't begin until
mid-April, a full month later than in past years due to the new
collective bargaining agreement.
"We're two or three months before we step onto the
field with whatever players we're going to have on our team," added
Caserio. "We're taking our time and we're not in any rush to do
anything at this point."
Caserio may not be Belichick, but he certainly
avoids specific answers like the future Hall of Fame coach. One area
that Caserio was somewhat definitive on was wide receiver Chad
Ochocinco's future in New England.
"He's under contract. So, if he's under contract,
he'll be here," Caserio said.
And as for the reason that all 32 teams are
actually in Indianapolis- to get a feel for the best of the best of the
2012 NFL Draft class - Caserio assessed the talent on hand.
"As usual, I'd say the underclassmen are a big
part of it. This is the most amount of underclassmen I think that asked
for an evaluation from the league. The final numbers are fairly high.
There's depth at more positions relative to others. I'd say receiver is
a position of strength. The offensive line's a position of strength.
The front seven is a position of strength. A lot of the players, front
seven especially that were down at the Senior Bowl, are some of the
better players in this draft. I think it's a good draft. Like every
year, each position has a little more depth or balance relative to
others. That's kind of where it is right now as we sit here at the