Here's why trusting Nick Caserio to push the right buttons for Texans is complicated
Many times when a franchise is in serious flux, it's because of a few reasons: an all-time great has retired leaving the team looking for that person's replacement, one or several key players have suffered serious/career-threatening injuries, or said player is getting ready to retire. Rarely is it the case the Texans are dealing with in which a player like Deshaun Watson (their 25-year-old franchise quarterback) is allegedly demanding to be traded.
Nick Caserio undoubtedly took the Texans general manager job thinking he had a franchise quarterback in the fold and re-signed to an extension. However, he quickly found out that wasn't the case. As the Watson drama continues to drag out, Caserio is also faced with the difficulty of reshaping a roster with salary cap issues that's more mangled than a hand caught in a garbage disposal.
Every day, we're watching the headlines waiting for the next shoe to drop. Will Fuller wasn't franchise tagged, so he'll be a free agent. Nick Martin was released, along with a few others. The house cleaning needs to continue. When David Johnson was brought back into the fold, I was a bit shocked. His deal will pay him anywhere from $4.25-6 million, but that money could've been better spent somewhere else. Which begs the question: can we trust Caserio to push all the right buttons to bring this franchise back to being a playoff contender?
The Easterby factor
Some will say they don't trust him to do what's right because he's a first time general manager who's in the back pocket of Jack Easterby. Caserio spent two decades in New England learning what to do, and not do, from Bill Belichick. Easterby plucked him from that situation because he knew Caserio would owe him if he got the job. Given that Easterby did so and apparently has ambitions to run a football team, one would think Caserio would be totally beholden to Easterby's desires and let him make decisions. Looking back at the moves Bill O'Brien made with Easterby in his ear, we see this isn't the most wise thing to do.
On the flip side, I think Caserio will do well. Despite the Watson drama, I expect him to come out smelling like roses. He's already taken the "we're not trading the player" approach. All the leaks about Watson's demands appear to be coming from his camp and not off Kirby. Taking this approach will not only create mystery, but it'll also drive up the price. I love how he's getting rid of the dead weight as well. Being in cap hell isn't easy, but I think he's doing the best he can given the situation. As I mentioned previously, he spent 20 or so years in New England learning under Belichick. That type of experience is unmatched. Some will say he didn't make any major decisions there. I'd counter that by saying he absorbed enough knowledge to know what he'd do differently if given the chance.
Ultimately, I think Caserio will right this ship. I also think he'll get a great haul for Watson if he trades him. He hasn't done anything too terrible yet to say he's worse than any previous regime, although re-signing Johnson was quite puzzling. Trading Watson and what he makes of those draft picks will define his legacy here. I think he will do okay. Will he hit homers on every pick? No, no one ever does. But will he make the right moves and put this team back together and into playoff contention? I believe so, and it'll happen within the next two years. Mark my words.
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