After three assistant coaches departed in recent days, there was still more surprising Patriots news Friday: Director of player personnel Nick Caserio interviewed with the Dolphins in Miami for their general manager opening.
Caserio, 38, has been with the Patriots since 2001, and has been in his current role for six years.
The Dolphins announced the interview on their website and Twitter page.
Caserio is the eighth candidate to meet with owner Steve Ross, and is a late entrant to the Dolphins’ search. Brian Gaine, currently the assistant GM in Miami, and Buccaneers director of player personnel Dennis Hickey were reportedly the finalists before Caserio was added to the list.
Cleveland assistant GM Ray Farmer recently backed out of the running, citing concerns with the Dolphins’ structure.
The surprise in Caserio interviewing is that he agreed to talk to Miami. He has been approached by teams in the past, and has turned down the opportunity to even interview.
In January 2012, Caserio spurned the Colts’ interest after Indianapolis fired longtime GM Bill Polian. At the time, Caserio explained, “I would say that I’ve got a great job here in New England, I work with a great staff — I’m privileged to work for the head coach [Bill Belichick] that I do. Today is no different than it was any other day and I enjoy being here.”
Caserio does not have final say over personnel matters — that belongs to Belichick. In recent years, he has taken on several duties.
It is believed he is the salary cap guy since Floyd Reese left the team, and he is frequently on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, keeping an eye on the roster as he keeps up with scouting the pro ranks and college players.
Belichick frequently credits Caserio and his staff — the director of college scouting is Jon Robinson and the director of pro scouting is Bob Quinn — for finding players who contribute to the Patriots’ success, but many observers assume that Belichick is the one who pulls the strings, and it’s unclear how much influence Caserio has over those decisions.
A league source said Friday night that little is known about Caserio, around the leagueand that he’s seen more as an organizer than decision-maker.
Becoming a GM would certainly put Caserio in a position to change that perception.
Multiple reports out of Miami Friday said the Dolphins will conduct final interviews this weekend.
Miami announced Jan. 7 that the team and general manager Jeff Ireland had “mutually decided” to part ways after six years, with the Dolphins failing to reach the playoffs the last five seasons.
The Dolphins signed several big-money free agents last offseason, notably receiver Mike Wallace and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and extended receiver Brian Hartline, whom they drafted in 2009.
But after beating the Patriots at home in Week 15 and putting itself in position to clinch a postseason berth and potentially win the AFC East, Miami was shut out in Buffalo a week later and lost to the Jets to finish the regular season.