Team is always willing to listen
Caserio expects some trade talk
FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots finished the last of their 30 pre-draft visits Wednesday, and director of player personnel Nick Caserio would like to think that’s the end of it.
But he knows better.
“I personally have gone out the day before the draft or maybe a few days before the draft to work out a player that maybe we haven’t had as much exposure with during the spring or during the process,’’ Caserio said.
Just last year, he sent offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to visit Nate Solder.
At that point, the draft was only a week away.
“I guess I wasn’t surprised, because people said be prepared for anything,’’ Solder said. “So I was kind of prepared for odd things like that.’’
They had a book on Solder already, but were looking to get clarification on a couple of things. To Solder, it was helpful to have a face to identify the organization.
“I had never met [Scarnecchia] before, so it was good to meet him,’’ Solder said. “I’m sure he knew a lot about me, but it’s always better to meet someone in person.’’
The Patriots then took Solder with the 17th overall pick. The trip didn’t necessarily seal the deal, but it showed the Patriots will let all the sand empty in the hourglass to make sure they’ve done their homework.
“I’d say the majority of the work is done,’’ Caserio said. “I think it’s a matter of cleaning up a couple of loose ends.’’
Caserio doesn’t expect to have any more interactions with players.
If anything, he said conversations with other teams will likely ramp up the closer it gets to draft day.
Five of New England’s six picks this year are in the first three rounds. Caserio said if other teams call, the Patriots will listen.
“Historically, there’s been a lot of movement as it relates to our picks,’’ he said. “So right now is where we are, but the door is always open. And I would say those things kind of evolve as the draft sort of moves along.’’
The Patriots have two first-round picks (No. 27 from the Saints and No. 31), two second-rounders (No. 48 from the Raiders and No. 62), a third (No. 93), and a fourth (No. 126). Caserio said conversations about trading up or down typically materialize the day of the draft.
The Patriots signed 29-year-old defensive back Steve Gregory in March to a three-year deal worth between $2 million and $3 million, a step in addressing the team’s patchwork secondary from last season.
He’s played both safety spots, some nickel back, and spent four years playing cornerback at Syracuse. “So I can play them all,’’ he said.
He recorded 67 tackles last season with San Diego (the second-highest total of his career) and returned his only interception of the season for a 26-yard touchdown.
It was a strong year, especially after a 2010 campaign during which he sat out four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. But he didn’t necessarily see it as a bounce-back.
“Last year was good for me,’’ Gregory said. “I got to start 13 games, gave me some more experience.
“The more experience you have in this league, the better you’re going to be. Every game you play, every snap you take, every rep you take only makes you better. Last year definitely made me better as a football player.’’
He’s a player after coach Bill Belichick’s heart, climbing the ladder through special teams before earning a starter’s job. He said he expects to contribute on the Patriots’ special teams but will approach the offseason hunting for a starting spot in the secondary.
“Special teams, that’s the way I made my way in this league,’’ he said. “Came in undrafted and really worked hard to earn my way onto a roster.’’
Brady back at it
Tom Brady has been at Gillette Stadium this week working out, according to league sources. In recent years, the quarterback has skipped the team’s voluntary workouts. Brady has a $258,000 workout bonus in his contract this year. By league rules, he can throw to receivers, but there cannot be any coaches present.
Chad Ochocinco and Brandon Lloyd are both participating in the workout program.
Light’s status up in air
Caserio was asked about Matt Light’s retirement status, but declined to add anything more to comments Light made at a charity event Wednesday that his decision would come sooner rather than later . . . Solder is making a point of putting on weight in the offseason. Listed at 319 pounds his rookie season, Solder said he’s 310 now but wants to get up to 320-330. “I’ve been trying to gain weight since I was a freshman in college,’’ he said. “So I can tell you that’s kind of a struggle for me.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.