How long can Patriots cope with defections?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Brain drain continued Tuesday in Foxborough, Mass.

ESPN's Michael Smith reports New England Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli is joining the Kansas City Chiefs. The loss is the latest in a series of Bill Belichick consiglieres to flip.

Hotshot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was introduced Monday as Denver Broncos head coach. Reports indicate he will take secondary coach Dom Capers and special teams coach Brad Seely with him.

Top college scout Thomas Dimitroff became Atlanta Falcons general manager last year. Belichick coordinators Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini have departed since December 2004.

Pioli spent nine years with the Patriots, winning the Sporting News' Executive of the Year award in 2003 and 2004 and Pro Football Weekly's version of the award in 2007.

From the Patriots' media guide:

Pioli's primary personnel objective is to build a team, not to simply collect individual talent. As a result, the Patriots have been able to prosper despite the NFL realities of injuries and the salary cap, which have proven in many cases to be impediments to long-term success in pro football.

Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio will be Pioli's replacement, but how long will Caserio stick around? He already has gained notice around the league. Reports connected him to the Broncos and Cleveland Browns GM vacancies. So Caserio will remain with the Patriots, but maybe next year he'll want to call his own shots.

Belichick is a savvy overseer. He hasn't missed badly with his appointments. He makes wise choice after wise choice when identifying subordinates to carry out his master plan.

But how long can Patriot Nation expect to survive the loss of so many bright minds?