logoThe Cleveland Browns have sought and obtained permission to interview Scott Pioli, the Patriots’ Vice-President of Personnel, for their newly vacant GM job. Another off-season, another flurry of Pioli rumors.

Here’s something I’m wondering – if Pioli has truly been on the fence about leaving the Pats (which, by the way, would have been in abject contradiction to his public statements on the matter), how was former college scouting director Thomas Dimitroff allowed to bolt to the Falcons last year? He was the obvious successor to Pioli if the Pats’ personnel chief left to finally take his alleged “dream job” with (insert team name here).

I just assume that people – especially long-term colleagues – discuss these sorts of things, and that Dimitroff took the Atlanta job in part because he knew Pioli wasn’t going anywhere.  The Patriots couldn’t stand in his way because they knew they wouldn’t have a worthy job for him anytime soon. Did that change in just twelve months? Or is this just another round of “dream job” conjecture?

Given the recent loss of an obvious successor candidate in Dimitroff, it sure would be a kick in the pants for the Patriots if it wasn’t. I’d have to wonder why Pioli worked so hard to dismiss these rumors in the past.

In early 07, Pioli told WEEI:

“It comes down to quality of life and happiness. No disrespect to any other job opportunities that may have been out there or may come in the future, but you know what my dream job is? My dream job is being with people I care about, people that I want to work with, people that I enjoy coming to work with every day, whether it’s coaches or ownership or the players. We’ve built something here that is pretty special. Quality of life has more to do with being happy, coming to work every day, and winning. The other thing that’s paramount is we’re winning here. It’s a great situation, with a lot of great people, and I enjoy being here.”

At last year’s Super Bowl, reporters again asked Pioli about the challenge of running his own team:

“What’s wrong with this challenge?” Pioli said. “Why can’t the natural progression to be part of a team that is good as long as possible?”

“Sustained success is the most elusive thing in this sport … Why isn’t that a greater challenge?”

Has that resolve changed in just twelve months? Did the Patriots lose a long-term successor for just one more year of Pioli?

Or are reports that that the personnel chief “is very interested” in the Cleveland job just more of the same?