Friday, February 26, 2010
Patriots budgeting out their offseason
By Tim Graham
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was fitting that Nick Caserio, on the lookout for a remote place to speak with reporters Friday on the Lucas Oil Stadium concourse, gravitated to an ATM alcove.
The New England Patriots' player personnel director occasionally leaned on the cash machine while discussing Vince Wilfork's contract status, negotiations with unrestricted free agents and ramifications of an uncapped year.
Caserio didn't deliver much news, but he spoke at length about issues facing the Patriots. And you have to admire the man's ability to speak into a microphone for 20 minutes and not reveal anything.
He did say the Patriots will be operating within a self-imposed budget during an uncapped season. But who knows how fat that budget will be? The Patriots are one of the league's wealthier clubs.
"In terms of our process, we go through the same process this year as we did in years past," Caserio said. "We have a budget in place like we do every year. It doesn't really change for us in terms of what we do in terms of spending and player acquisition.
"As far as what the situation is moving forward, I mean, I don't have a crystal ball. You don't have a crystal ball. We're operating under the terms that we have in place and that haven't really changed all that much since I've been here."
For effect, Caserio could've whipped an ATM card from his back pocket, swiped it through the machine and got Julius Peppers' agent on the phone to ask how much he should withdraw. Unfortunately for the gathered reporters, Caserio declined to give us a story.
He also declined to give any meaningful updates on negotiations with Wilfork for a long-term deal, only saying "the communication has been good. It's been ongoing." He declined to put a timetable on when a contract might be finalized.
Caserio touched on New England's other unrestricted free agents and how much communication there's been from him or senior advisor Floyd Reese. Their UFA group most notably includes running back Kevin Faulk, outside linebackers Tully Banta-Cain and Derrick Burgess and cornerback Leigh Bodden.
"I think you have levels of communication with all your free agents," Caserio said. "You are at different stages. Obviously, all the agents are here [at the combine]. So I would say there is continuous communication amongst all parties. Obviously once we get into free agency [March 5], it goes a little bit further."
On the recent re-signing of receiver David Patten, Caserio said the Patriots aren't living in the past.
"David has been great for us," Caserio said. "He’s great off the field. He has an unquestionable work ethic. So we want competitive, tough-minded, hungry football players looking for an opportunity, and I think David Patten kind of falls into that category.
"He has to come and earn his role on the team. Here is an opportunity for him, and whatever he makes of it, that’s entirely up to him, but we’re certainly happy to have him."