Sean Pendergast

Nick Caserio Discusses NFL Draft, Jack Easterby and Deshaun Watson's Future on SportsRadio 610

Nick Caserio was very candid in a conversation this week on SportsRadio 610.
Nick Caserio was very candid in a conversation this week on SportsRadio 610. Photo by Jack Gorman
Since arriving in January of 2021 to take over control of the football operation of the Houston Texans, general manager Nick Caserio has been a bit of a public relations conundrum.

On the one hand, he has made himself more voluntarily available to the media than any previous Texans general manager. For example, Rick Smith, in my four seasons at SportsRadio 610 in which he was the GM, did exactly zero interviews with my show, which was (a) in afternoon drive, and (b) on the Texans flagship. That's absurd, and borderline inexcusable. Caserio has joined me monthly on my morning drive show since taking over a year ago.

On the other hand, while Caserio has generally made himself available, his answers to questions have frustrated many Texans fans. Twenty years in the New England Patriot machine before arriving in Houston have made Caserio very good at talking a lot and saying very little. His answers can be very evasive, at times.

Well, that dynamic of evasiveness shifted greatly on Tuesday morning, as Caserio joined me and former Texans defensive tackle Seth Payne on SportsRadio 610 for a wide ranging twenty minute conversation, in which Caserio was, by far, his most candid and open about the state of the team, the upcoming draft, Jack Easterby, and the two highest paid employees in the organization, Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil.

Here were the four biggest highlights from the conversation, along with embedded audio clips:

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Caserio is wide open to trading out of the third overall pick
Caserio had dropped small hints over the last week or so that he would be open to moving out of the overall pick in the draft in a trade that would net the Texans a higher volume of picks later in the first round, later in the overall draft, and/or in future seasons. The Texans need quantity as much as they need quality, as they are woefully short on good, young building blocks. Caserio was beyond enthusiastic to confirm that, not only is the store open for business on the third overall pick, but in general, he listens to every offer of any type, and if it works in the Texans' best interests, he will do it.

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Caserio thinks Jack Easterby is misunderstood
Since his arrival in April of 2019, Easterby has been the most controversial figure inside the building with the Texans, as the team will soon have its third head coach, and currently has its third general manager, under Easterby's watch as an Executive Vice President with the ear of owner Cal McNair. Furthermore, Caserio and Easterby have history with each other, as they worked in New England for six years before Easterby left to come to Houston. They are friends, so it's not surprising for Caserio to try to downplay Easterby's role in football decisions, and even went so far as to call Easterby a media "punching bag" for all of the scrutiny, fair or unfair, that he has received.

Additionally, Caserio addressed whether or not candidates for the head coaching vacancy have inquired about Easterby's role with the team:

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It will be fascinating to see who the Texans hire, as the PERCEIVED leading candidates for the job, Brian Flores and Jerod Mayo (who has yet to receive an interview request),  are both Easterby favorites.

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Caserio did not exactly give a ringing endorsement of left tackle Laremy Tunsil
The Texans' two highest paid players, Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil, played a total of five games for the team last season, all played by Tunsil (obviously). While he's an elite talent at left tackle, Tunsil's work ethic has not always been touted as the best, and this past season, after going out with a wrist injury in Week 5, it was widely believed Tunsil would be back following the bye week in Week 10. The ongoing weekly saga of "will he or won't he play?" ended with Tunsil playing exactly zero snaps from Week 6 through Week 18, and by the tone of Caserio's answer to why Tunsil didn't play that portion of the season, it seems like there's a good chance Tunsil has played his final snap as a Texan. Expect the former Pro Bowl tackle to be moved for a draft pick or two before April.

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Caserio has not publicly closed the door on Deshun Watson's return (but it seems unlikely)
Finally, we asked about the most important player remaining on the Texans' roster, Deshaun Watson. Watson's importance, unfortunately, is more likely represented by the massive haul of draft picks the team hopes to land in a trade that would send him onto his next stop, as opposed to being important for, you know, ACTUALLY PLAYING for the Texans, something he hasn't done since January 3, 2021. Caserio didn't close the door completely on Watson's returning to the Texans, but it would appear that is a remote possibility, at best. The concern now for the Texans is that Watson get his legal issues cleared up in time for them to move him before the 2022 draft.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast