Jun. 13--The New England Patriots have filed a tampering claim against the Houston Texans for the pursuit of Nick Caserio for the team's general manager vacancy, according to ESPN.

Caserio is New England's longtime director of player personnel and one of coach Bill Belichick's top evaluators in the front office. According to multiple reports, the Texans requested to interview Caserio for their GM job, which became open on Friday when the team announced it was firing former general manager Brian Gaine after he had completed just one season in the role.

The Texans have several connections with the Patriots, as Houston coach Bill O'Brien and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel are among the coaches with experience in New England. A more recent addition, however, may prove to be the point of contention.

Jack Easterby served as a character coach for the Patriots for several seasons, eventually becoming one of Belichick's closest confidants and assistants. Easterby stepped down from his role in New England in the beginning of March after six years, and eventually was hired by the Texans to be the organization's vice president of team development.

Easterby was in attendance for the Patriots' Super Bowl ring presentation ceremony held last Thursday night at the home of franchise owner Robert Kraft. Gaine was dismissed from his role the following day.

The NFL could now open an official investigation into the matter, requesting any evidence to corroborate or refute the claim.

The league's anti-tampering policy defines tampering as "any interference by a member club with the employer-employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce a person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL." The policy also states that Commissioner Roger Goodell holds "the full, complete, and final jurisdiction and authority to arbitrate" whether or not a case rises to the level of tampering, and a "preponderance of the evidence" is required to rule that a violation occurred.

Potential discipline could include the loss or reward of draft picks, fines, and/or suspensions to those found to have committed tampering.

O'Brien was asked on Tuesday whether he or Easterby had made any contact with Caserio regarding the GM job.

"I would say that the answer to that is no, relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans," O'Brien told reporters. "No."

Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes. ___

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