Does the Caserio clause comply with league rules?

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The Texans reportedly backed away from the pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio because of contract language preventing Caserio from leaving New England. Some in league circles are now asking whether the Caserio clause complies with league rules.

The NFL’s anti-tampering policy outlines the circumstances in which a team may hire an executive from another team to become a “high-level employee,” as defined by the policy. Here’s the key passage from the policy: “If . . . the inquiring club is prepared to offer a position as a high-level employee . . . the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.”

The emphasis wasn’t added by me; it appears in the policy. And the argument would be, if push comes to shove, that this provision of the tampering policy supersedes the Caserio clause, which as applied would prevent him from leaving his non-high-level employee job with the Patriots (coach Bill Belichick obviously runs the show in New England) for an opportunity to become a “high-level employee” with another team.

As one league source has explained it to PFT, at least one other team has had a similar clause in the contract of a non-high-level employee. And at least one other team challenged that clause. And the NFL ultimately invalidated the clause.

So, basically, the Texans could have challenged the Caserio clause. It’s unclear whether the Texans know that. It’s possible that they don’t, given the current dearth of football business expertise in the organization, with owner Cal McNair still getting up to speed and meteorically rising Jack-of-All-Trades Easterby likely not as knowledgeable as he could/should be. It’s also possible that they know, but that they backed off given whatever evidence of actual tampering (that is, direct communications with Caserio by the Texans before G.M. Brian Gaine was fired) that the Patriots were able to produce in the aftermath of the filing of the now-abandoned tampering charge.

Regardless, Caserio arguably isn’t bound to the Patriots, notwithstanding the Caserio clause. If he isn’t a non-high-level employee (again, Belichick runs the show) and if another team offers Caserio a position that makes him a high-level employee, any agreement between Caserio and the Patriots to the contrary could be invalidated, if the other team challenges it.

61 responses to “Does the Caserio clause comply with league rules?

  1. Does the fact that the Patriots are not complying with the rules shock anyone?

  2. Hint: McDaniels and Caserio do not want to leave. Kraft will
    match or supersede any offer. If Caserio wanted to go they would grant him out of the deal.

    the cheating against the pats simply never ends

    they tampered

    that is a fact. punish now

  3. Caserio would have been the 8th staff member to leave the Pats this year for other teams. Also Gronk retired, Trent Brown and Trey Flowers among others signed away in free agency, and their star quarterback will turn 42 this year. They have no defensive coordinator after Schiano quit for personal reasons. Add to that the lowest draft position and a first place schedule. I’m predicting 13-3 this year.

  4. What if he is already in a position considered “high level”.

    It’s not like they are holding up the water boy.

  5. sounds like Caserio didn’t know what he was agreeing to when he inked his contract w NE

  6. redclaw1314 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 11:03 am
    Caserio would have been the 8th staff member to leave the Pats this year for other teams. Also Gronk retired, Trent Brown and Trey Flowers among others signed away in free agency, and their star quarterback will turn 42 this year. They have no defensive coordinator after Schiano quit for personal reasons. Add to that the lowest draft position and a first place schedule. I’m predicting 13-3 this year.
    —————-

    Why are you so pessimistic about our 2019-2020 Patriots? 🙂

    Non-story with most teams but, since the greatest NFL dynasty of all-time is involved, our 21st century New England Patriots, should be great and ultimately pointless fodder for message boards and talk show hosts everywhere for a week or two.

  7. The nosy nerve and arrogant cheating approaches of afc teams as sits idly by and colludes.

    Caserio is far too loyal to leave now.

    Houston knew this which is why they tampered.

    Punish now! The cheating is amazing

  8. Does the fact that the Patriots are not complying with the rules shock anyone?

    ———-

    The rules don’t prohibit this language in a contract.

    Nice try though.

  9. Quite funny that this exact language in a contract was already deemed invalid once by the NFL yet the Patsies still think they’re not doing anything wrong. Again, why anybody want to work for an organization that won’t allow you to take a VERY CLEAR promotion.

  10. sounds like Caserio didn’t know what he was agreeing to when he inked his contract w NE

    ——-

    Then he should fire his agent if he has one.

  11. without seeing the contract or knowing the negotiations, I would guess that he received more money for the Patriots for being in an exclusive agreement.

  12. “When we started the process to interview Nick Caserio for our EVP/GM position, we consulted the League office on numerous occasions, followed the procedures outlined in the League’s rules and believed we were in full compliance,” the statement read. “We have now been made aware of certain terms in Nick’s contract with the Patriots. Once we were made aware of these contract terms, I advised Mr. Kraft that we would stop pursuing Nick.”

  13. tylawspick6 says:

    Hint: McDaniels and Caserio do not want to leave.
    ___________________________
    Huh? McDaniels interviewed in Green Bay this year, wanted the gig, but was passed over for a better canidate.

    Even as a Pats fan, you have to understand that this Caserio situation is a self attmitted example of the Patriots breaking the rules again. But turn a blind eye if you want to keep denying it.

  14. “If . . . the inquiring club is prepared to offer a position as a high-level employee . . . the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.”

    Ok, here’s the thing. Nothing says a team can’t have more than one “high-level employee”. In fact, the NFL Anti-tampering Policy specifies head coach and general manager as being high-level employees. The Patriots are on solid ground in this instance, in that Caserio can easily be classified as high-level.

    Here’s an excerpt from page 16 of the NFL Anti-Tampering Policy Document:

    A high-level club employee is defined as:
    (1) An individual who has primary authority and responsibility for the organization, direction, and management of day-to-day operations of the club and who reports directly to the controlling owner; or
    (2) An individual who is the primary football executive for the club and who has:
    (i) the primary authority over all personnel decisions related to the signing of free agents, the selection of players in the College Draft, trades, and related decisions; and
    (ii) the primary responsibility for coordinating other football activities with the head coach.
    Final authority regarding the composition of the 53-player roster is not a requirement. (see Section 6 (Administrative Review) for disputes concerning this definition):
    (3) Under Contract. Except as may be otherwise provided in such contract, a club is not obligated to grant another club permission to discuss employment with a high-level employee if he or she is under contract, even if the inquiring club is prepared to offer the employee a position of greater responsibility within the category of high-level club employee. An employer club may negotiate a right of first refusal into the contract of a high-level employee.

  15. Quite funny that this exact language in a contract was already deemed invalid once by the NFL yet the Patsies still think they’re not doing anything wrong. Again, why anybody want to work for an organization that won’t allow you to take a VERY CLEAR promotion.

    ————-
    1. The language is not prohibited. If it was prohibited there would be a rule that says something like “ no contract shall be exclusive…”. As you may realize, any language can be challenged at any point at any time. Even though it was challenged by another team, it can still be used since it’s not prohibited.

    2. As far as why someone would want to work under this contract? Who knows? He has been there a long time. They probably pay him well. And he agreed to it. That’s the most important thing that you don’t seem to understand.

  16. ….keep on prodding The Greatest Franchise In Sporting History.

    It is WELL DOCUMENTED what happens when you do that.

  17. Has anyone other than the involved parties actually seen the current contract? If not it is at least possible that this is really just a ploy on the part of the Texans with agreement from the Patriots, for the Texans to back away from the issue of tampering and at the same time save face.

  18. All this conjecture is based on a single claim by Texans that may be nothing more than a BS excuse to cover their tampering backtracking. Otherwise why didn’t it come up last year (at least to them if not to us) when their same approach for Caserio was also turned down?

  19. The league approves all these contracts I thought. League approved and nothing wrong with it.

  20. It would be interesting to see the actual language in this clause.

    Maybe he received a $2mn bonus that has to be repaid if he leaves and the Texans said, “nah, not covering it.”

  21. diehard pats fan from MA, but If i were to guess:

    1) Houston and Billy O’Brien tried getting Nick last year and the pats said NO
    2 Jack Easterby, the former patriots “team developer” aKA religious coach, is now in houston.

    I would go on a limb and say during the ring ceremony, he came back to Foxborough and met with Nick and gave him money numbers. I also think Houston fired their GM thinking Belichick would allow Nick to leave THIS YEAR like many of the Pats assistants. Pats Pulpit, the Si forum, said early on, it felt as though the tampering charges were just like the Jets with us and belichick in 2000, a provision to get draft picks should Caserio leave.

    Josh and Nick are a package deal, thats why they didnt go to San Francisco in 2016 when Johnny Lynch was hired as GM.

  22. The NFL league office needs to step in and declare clauses like that invalid and unenforceable.
    Teams can’t skirt league rules, unless they want to go to federal court.

  23. Whhhaaaat???? Are you trying to say the Patriots think they are above the league rules??

    =======

    You have it wrong. The Texans broke a rule.

    But you want to blame NE, it seems.

    What rule did NE break?

  24. intrafinesse says:
    June 15, 2019 at 1:05 pm
    The NFL league office needs to step in and declare clauses like that invalid and unenforceable.
    Teams can’t skirt league rules, unless they want to go to federal court.

    ———————
    Agreed. And during the league review and approval process would be the exact right time to do that.

  25. “why anybody want to work for an organization that won’t allow you to take a VERY CLEAR promotion.”

    Because they paid him enough to make it worth it for Caserio to sign a contract with that clause in it. If they hadn’t offered him enough, he never would have signed it.

    And no, its not a “very clear promotion”. In fact it is in many ways a lateral move.

  26. BB has final say over the roster…
    O’Brien has final say also..

    Will you uninformed haters explain to me how this is a promotion for Caserio? Lateral moves are allowed but requires permission, that is why the Texans were denied by the Patriots last year. They tried to come through the back door this year only to inadvertently run into a wall of Lombardi trophies.

  27. Caserio signed it and the NFL approved it so are you going to tell me that no one read it?


  28. thecape15 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Whhhaaaat???? Are you trying to say the Patriots think they are above the league rules??

    =======

    You have it wrong. The Texans broke a rule.

    But you want to blame NE, it seems.

    What rule did NE break?”

    ———————————————————————————–

    Ummm, the rule this entire article was about where they but a clause in a contract that league rules say ” the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.” Yeah, that rule.

  29. Ummm, the rule this entire article was about where they but a clause in a contract that league rules say ” the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.

    ———

    There is no rules against the clause.

    And Houston was not letting it play out to let the NFL decide.

    Something may change but until then don’t you wonder why Houston backed off?

  30. Northviking… Quit trying to put a hole in the water to fish…. It has to be a PROMOTION. He makes more than most GMs now (2 million a year) but yet you haters scream they are stopping him from making money. Do some research.

  31. The Caserio clause is an unenforceable noncomoete agreement unless he specifically received money to secure it, which doesntvapesr to be articulated. The NFL is a limited workplace so it is a bigger concern that Caserio will harm his reputation than it is worth being concerned about this unenforceable clause.

  32. thecape15 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 11:27 am
    Does the fact that the Patriots are not complying with the rules shock anyone?

    ———-

    The rules don’t prohibit this language in a contract.

    Nice try though.

    =======

    Since it is an upward move, it would invalidate the contract….. so, yes, the rules prohibit the language.

    Nice try though……..,

  33. It is WELL DOCUMENTED what happens when you do that.

    I know they will then cheat and if that fails they will claim unfair persecution……a very slimy team led by Asia Orchids Kraft.

  34. Since it is an upward move, it would invalidate the contract….. so, yes, the rules prohibit the language

    =====

    Not an upward move.

    I guess that is why attorneys are involved constantly.

    NFL does not define upward move.

  35. thecape15 says:

    Not an upward move
    _____________________
    Moving from his present NE position of director of player personel to Houston GM is both an upward move and puts him in an executive role by definition of nfl leadership chain of command. Pay doesnt matter. Most teams have DoPP under Gm.

  36. Everything said here is pure speculation since none of us have a copy of the contract so we don’t know what the specific clause says. So everybody from those using the word “cheater” to the uninformed needs to just shut their yaps.

  37. Moving from his present NE position of Director of Player Personnel to Houston GM is an upward move…

    ========
    As MikeSpillane said:
    BB has final say over the roster.
    O’Brien has final say also.

    Bob just Bob quoted page 16 of the anti tampering document. I could not copy and paste it for some reason.

    But it is more complicated than pay. I agree.

    Sounds like a lateral move.

  38. rabbi187 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 11:43 am
    Quite funny that this exact language in a contract was already deemed invalid once by the NFL yet the Patsies still think they’re not doing anything wrong. Again, why anybody want to work for an organization that won’t allow you to take a VERY CLEAR promotion.

    ——————-
    Money thats why. I gave had such clauses and happily too. Lets say a company pays me a huge signing bonus to come aboard and guarantee that I will give them x number if years (I have had a 2 and a three year one if these over the course of my career). The bonus is paid in installments over the course of the employment with larger percentage payments at the very beginning and end. If I was to blow this off they will not sue me for breach, they will simply be no longer required to give me those payouts. So if I take off I am leaving a chunk of money (and reputation) on the table. That is probably close to the situation with Caserio. Even if the league rules the clause is not binding as per league rules (simply means they wont enforce it, sorry haters but there is no cheating or rules violation to be punished), he is still very incentivized to adhere to it and its in fact very costly to to him if he were to not voluntarily adhere to the contract. That means (in order to counter this) Houston would have to compensate for his lost Patriots signing bonus over and above the compensation he receives from Houston. That can make the total cost too rich for Houstons tastes so they are not feeling like pushing the league to overturn the clause.

  39. 6 rings.

    Does your team have more? Yeah that’s that I thought. Sit down and zip it. All hail the NFL’s Greatest Dynasty!

    🙂

  40. If the NFL has a rule, and it does not SPECIFICALLY say that you cannot do something, the Patriots will do it. The Patriots know the rules book better than anyone, they likely wrote much of it when they were chummy with the head office. (I do think they deflated the footballs, there was too much smoke there and destroying cell phones…come on, but they should have been fined $50K and that should have been the end of it.) They win for a reason, they are better. They also get a lot of pass interference calls when they are on offense and very few offensive line holding calls. Most likely because they know the rules and make sure some things are seen, while others are not seen.

  41. sfsaintsfan says:
    June 16, 2019 at 8:51 am
    (I do think they deflated the footballs, there was too much smoke there and destroying cell phones…come on
    ————————————————————–
    Most people are able to understand that only one phone is needed to see all the text messages that were sent between 2 phones. Brady replaced his private phone, which is what rich people do when newer phones become available. The NFL had no right to ever take possession of Brady’s private phone.

    All the private data & personal photographs would have been leaked, just like the text messages about the swimming pool cover and the one about Peyton Manning, which were leaked from the printed logs that Brady provided. The NFL had all the text messages from the “destroyed phone” available in the printed phone log.

    The NFL also took possession of the 2 team owned phones that were used by the equipment guys. Many people still understand that you only need one phone to see all the text messages. In this case, the NFL had the phones plus the printed log from the other phone.

    The headlines about the “destroyed phones” was spin to manipulate public opinion and make gullible people believe that someone destroyed evidence. The private phone was never going to be seen even if Brady had the phone framed and mounted on a wall in his house. Besides, there was nothing incriminating on the “destroyed” phone. The paper logs plus the 2 team owned phones had already proven that long before the countless headlines about the “destroyed phone”.

    The NFL was eager to collect PSI measurements during the 2015 NFL season because they wanted the measurements to show that footballs don’t drop PSI naturally during cold weather games. The NFL is still hiding that PSI data because science can’t lie.

  42. If the NFL has a rule, and it does not SPECIFICALLY say that you cannot do something, the Patriots will do it

    ———

    This makes sense in many aspects of life. Many teams do it.

    I kind of think this way at work, as long as it is reasonable.

    If you want to do something, the first thing you do is see if it is prohibited.

  43. “ I do think they deflated footballs “ says a Saints fan. So did they also deflate the Colts footballs too, since the Colts footballs were also under inflated???
    My goodness after all these years one would think posters would finally understand there was no tampering! It’s because cold weather causes footballs to lose pressure!!!

  44. pointtwopsiistheissue says:
    June 16, 2019 at 11:38 am
    “ I do think they deflated footballs “ says a Saints fan. So did they also deflate the Colts footballs too, since the Colts footballs were also under inflated???
    My goodness after all these years one would think posters would finally understand there was no tampering! It’s because cold weather causes footballs to lose pressure!!!

    ————————
    But a saints fan said so. Proof.

  45. The NFL was eager to collect PSI measurements during the 2015 NFL season because they wanted the measurements to show that footballs don’t drop PSI naturally during cold weather games. The NFL is still hiding that PSI data because science can’t lie.

    —-
    Yep.

    It’s obvious to not just Patriots fans but anyone with a brain why the league has no intention of ever releasing that data.

  46. upnorthvikesfan says:
    June 15, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    thecape15 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Whhhaaaat???? Are you trying to say the Patriots think they are above the league rules??

    =======

    You have it wrong. The Texans broke a rule.

    But you want to blame NE, it seems.

    What rule did NE break?”

    ———————————————————————————–

    Ummm, the rule this entire article was about where they but a clause in a contract that league rules say ” the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.” Yeah, that rule.

    10 66 Rate This
    thecape15 says:
    June 15, 2019 at 4:58 pm
    Ummm, the rule this entire article was about where they but a clause in a contract that league rules say ” the employer club may not deny the employee the opportunity to discuss and accept such employment.
    ###############################
    Ummmmmmmmmm the Pats are in compliance as they did not prevent Caserio from discussing. Caserio did himself by signing the contract. If the NFL wants to prevent that from happening then they need a rule that explicitly calls it out. You haters forget this a billion dollar business where each team and the league themselves employee top tier legal teams. They specialize in fine print and loop holes.

  47. Robert “HandyMan” Kraft says:
    June 15, 2019 at 10:52 am
    Does the fact that the Patriots are not complying with the rules shock anyone?

    ———————————–

    Does it shock anyone that a Patriots-hater doesn’t understand what a fact is?

  48. Man, all you haters missing one GIANT point.
    Caserio’s contract stipulates “no interviews”
    If the Texans want him so bad, mail a contract to him. No interview necessary.

  49. I guess I’m confused how ‘Director of Player Personnel’ isn’t a high level position ?!?!? While I agree Caserio should have a shot at running the show I’m not sure it should be penalty free if he’s under contract in a high level position.

  50. Sorry Pats fans, you team tried to claim tampering for simply trying to talk to a guy the Pats say can’t take another job due to a contractual clause. It is irrelevant (though likely) that the Pats paid a premium for that clause.

    The problem is that the Pats have language in the contract that is in clear violation of league rules.

    If Caserio were a GM, then he’d meet the criteria of High Level employee as defined in the rules. He doesn’t, because your head coach has all of that control (and does amazingly well with it!).

    As is, Caserio is NOT considered a High Level employee under the rules and would be classified as such in the Houston position.

  51. I love how another team besides the Patriots had a similar clause but yet the PAts somehow created the concept and has folded it into their continuous cheating ways. Ummmm … clearly they weren’t the first and only team to do so. So yeah, the Pats are the only team to not comply with the rules. In the entire NFL. Ever. LOL

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