TAMPA - The Patriots are filling the position of former vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli with two people. The club reshuffled its front-office structure yesterday by hiring Floyd Reese as a senior football adviser and further defining Nick Caserio's role as director of player personnel.
Reese, a 31-year NFL veteran who most recently served as Tennessee Titans general manager, will be involved with various football-related assignments, including contracts. Pioli was one of the Patriots' primary contract negotiators and salary cap managers before he left to become the Chiefs' general manager.
Caserio will manage the daily operations of the personnel/scouting department - an increased role that includes a significant pay raise - while continuing to work closely with coach Bill Belichick. If the 33-year-old Caserio is in need of a veteran sounding board on a personnel issue, Reese could help.
With his vast NFL experience, which spans coaching, personnel evaluation, and contract negotiations, Reese is willing to adapt to whatever the Patriots want.
"It's different from a lot of situations - this organization doesn't need a lot of fixing," he said. "They are in pretty good shape, so I think my objective is to come in and do whatever I can do to help Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Bill win another world championship."
It appears Reese's background in contract negotiations and salary cap management - areas in which Caserio is not as experienced and Pioli was instrumental - will be most important.
Reese met with chairman/CEO Robert Kraft, president Jonathan Kraft, and Belichick in the interview process, but he did not meet Caserio. That is a strong indication that his role will be more contract- and salary cap-based than personnel-based.
As Titans assistant general manager (1990-93) and general manager (1994-2006), Reese negotiated every contract, from free agents to draft choices.
"That's an area that I'm very experienced in," he said.
Reese and Belichick share a connection that traces to the mid-1970s when both were assistant coaches with the Detroit Lions. They carpooled to work in those days.
Reese spent the first 15 years of his NFL career as a coach, and the next 17 in player personnel. He most recently was working for ESPN as a football analyst.
"Floyd and I go back a long way, practically to the beginning for both of us," Belichick said in a statement. "He has handled as much as one person can possibly handle in this league and to a certain extent, so has Nick. In Nick and Floyd, we have two outstanding men who each bring a wealth of knowledge and flexibility to this organization. I look forward to joining with both of them and working toward the common goal of our team's improvement and success."
If the Patriots tap Reese for personnel-specific duties, the learning curve for what type of players the team seeks shouldn't be too steep. Reese recalled yesterday that with the Titans, he'd annually speak with Belichick after the draft and they were often on the same page.
"The players on the Patriots team, a lot of the players were people that we were going to draft a couple of slots before or a couple of slots after, but generally very close," Reese said. "I think that you look at their franchise and what they're doing both from a personnel and coaching standpoint, it's a marriage made in heaven."
Reese said he received a call from Belichick about 7-10 days ago. The sides agreed to terms Monday, and while Reese would not divulge the length of the contract, he indicated he plans to be in New England for more than one year.
"We consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to add someone with Floyd Reese's NFL experience and expertise to our staff," Robert Kraft said in a statement. "Floyd will be a tremendous asset serving Coach Belichick in an advisory role."
Reese had been open about his desire to return to the NFL, and he was thrilled to have a chance to do so with the Patriots.
"If you look at professional sports franchises over the last 10 or 12 years and you say, 'Name the top five,' the New England Patriots are going to be there someplace," he said. "If you look at ownership of organizations and franchises and you say, 'OK, name the top five owners,' Mr. Kraft and his family are going to be in there someplace. And if you look at the top coaches in any sport, Bill Belichick will be someplace near the top. It's a real honor and privilege for me to be a part of it."