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Patriots’ personnel boss Nick Caserio agrees to extension

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been with the team in a variety of roles since 2001.
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been with the team in a variety of roles since 2001.(AP)

FOXBOROUGH — Nick Caserio, the Patriots’ director of player personnel since 2008, has signed a contract extension through the 2020 season, according to a league source.

The extension, initially reported by ESPN, comes as other NFL teams ending their seasons can begin interviewing candidates for general manager positions that become open. Caserio already was being mentioned as a strong candidate for those, but the Patriots have taken the proactive step of locking him up. It’s unclear if Caserio’s job title will include the GM designation.

Caserio, who turned 39 on Saturday, has been with the team since 2001, when he was hired as a personnel assistant.

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“I think Nick does a great job for us. He probably does more than any other person in his position in the league, in terms of his amount of responsibility and the number of different things he does on the coaching and the scouting level,” coach Bill Belichick said after Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Bills at Gillette Stadium in the regular-season finale. “He’s really a valuable guy that has great working knowledge of everything that we do on the scouting end and the coaching end. He’s able to really interface with everybody and not only evaluate players, but has a great understanding of our schemes, our coaches and coaching points, and so forth, to be able to identify the type of fit that guys have coming in here, or lack of fit as the case would be, whatever it happens to be.”

In his primary role of helping build, shape, and sign the roster, Caserio was instrumental in bringing in a number of major contributors either before this season or after it began. That group includes cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, receiver Brandon LaFell, tight end Tim Wright, and linebackers Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas. Wright, Ayers, and Casillas joined the Patriots in trades.

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It’s not the first time Caserio’s name has been mentioned for GM openings. He interviewed twice last season for the Dolphins’ GM position, before withdrawing his name from consideration.

“Nick doesn’t get enough credit for what happens here,” said team president Jonathan Kraft, appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub before the game. “Nick is a unique guy. He joined us at the lowest level. He has coached, he has scouted, he has done the job of the guy running the front office, looking at the salary cap and the administrative stuff. For a guy his age, he really has a lot of NFL experience under his belt, and he and Bill have a great trust with each other. Nick is a big part of what we do here.”

Caserio has been involved primarily in player personnel for 12 of his 14 seasons with the Patriots. He was an offensive assistant coach in 2002, and was the team’s receivers coach in 2007, when the Patriots completed a perfect regular season before losing in the Super Bowl.

Before joining the Patriots, Caserio spent time as a graduate assistant coach at Saginaw Valley State and Central Michigan. He was a quarterback in college at John Carroll University in his native Ohio, where he was teammates with current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

With the Patriots about to embark on another postseason trip, the focus is understandably on this season, with these players. But looking ahead, Caserio will have some roster decisions to make in the offseason involving key personnel. Players who will be unrestricted free agents after the season include running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen; offensive lineman Dan Connolly; kicker Stephen Gostkowski; and safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung.

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A decision also will have to be made on Revis, who signed a two-year contract in March, with the 2015 season being an option year that would pay him $20 million. Caserio will certainly be kept busy.

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Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.