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Under new owner, former Patriots exec led NFL in spending to ‘upgrade’ the entire team

The Houston Texans went on a major spending spree this offseason — and it all came under the watch of Nick Caserio, a former member of the New England Patriots front office.

According to ESPN, the Texans shelled out $144.5 million in guaranteed money this offseason, the most in the league. That all falls under the preview of Caserio, who went from Patriots director of player personnel to Texans GM in 2021.

It’s been striking to see a Houston team run by a former Patriots exec go all-in while New England doesn’t seem to be placing many bets.

It’s worth noting that the Texans may be looking to take advantage of their current window. Houston went from the No. 2 overall pick to winning their division at 10-7 last season, thanks in large part to the emergence of quarterback C.J. Stroud.

It also comes as the team changes ownership, with Cal McNair officially being approved by the league as the new owner, taking over for his mother, co-founder Janice McNair, who had run the team since the death of her husband, fellow co-founder Bob McNair.

Under new management, the Texans pushed their chips in this offseason to add talent in free agency. The team added running back Joe Mixon and tight end Dalton Schultz to boost the offense. On the defensive side, Houston signed linebacker Danielle Hunter, defensive end Denico Autry linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, cornerback Jeff Okudah and even brought in a former Patriots DB in Myles Bryant.

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Those are some big swings and come in sharp contrast to what’s been perceived as a thrifty offseason for the Patriots as they look to rebuild. New England ranked near the bottom of the league in cash spending last season.

Houston, though, is further ahead in the timeline — especially since they have a franchise quarterback in place. Speaking at the league meetings, Texans coach DeMeco Ryans told reporters that his team was looking up make upgrades everywhere.

“I want to upgrade our entire team and continue to get better, and I think that’s what you have to do each and every year,” Ryans said, via ESPN. “So every year we’ll be trying to upgrade, we’ll try to get better and try to find guys that help our team.”

While the Patriots have been getting flak for not spending money this offseason, they have had their moments. The team notably went in big with free-agent spending in 2021, bringing the likes of Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Henry Anderson and Kendrick Bourne. That big offseason came just months after Caserio left the Patriots to take the GM job in Houston.

In the face of criticism, Patriots chairman Robert Kraft has pushed back on the idea that he’s not willing to spend cash on players.

“They’ve been able to get whatever they want. If cash spending became an issue for our family, and we couldn’t do it, then I would sell the team,” Kraft said at the Super Bowl. “Winning football games, after my family, is the most important thing in my life. Whatever we can do to help make that happen, we’re going to do.”

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