Opening Press Conference for 2014 Training Camp presented by Verizon
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Can you talk about
“No, I didn’t think there was anything (to talk about). Obviously each one of these things is unique, and obviously going through an appeal hearing over the position argument was unique. Otherwise, it’s a negotiation. We had a tough one two years before with Drew (Brees). These things happen. All these negotiations are tough. Obviously when it’s a high-profile guy, more is written about it. Those are personal issues for the player in particular. We understand that, but it’s behind us. We’re glad to have it done; I’m sure Jimmy’s glad to have it done. He’s where he wants to be, and we have him under contract which is what we wanted.”
Is it possible for an extended negotiation like that to not be messy?
“I don’t know if I would describe that as ‘messy’. There was just an issue that had to do with the way the CBA was written that introduced some more elements to it. I didn’t feel like that was really messy. It was a tough negotiation, obviously, but it ended well.”
How do you feel about your cap space?
“We’ve been tight against the cap for a few years, the last few years. That’s a product of having a good team and wanting to keep the core of that team together. We’ll be able to function and improve our team and I’m confident that we will be able to have a good roster on the field.”
People are saying this might be the best team in Saints history.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to that because no one said that in 2009 when we won the Super Bowl (XLIV). They weren’t saying we had the best roster (that year), and yet in my mind, that was the best result the Saints have ever had. That was our best team ever, right? I don’t pay a lot attention to that. You still have to come together as a team, you need to have the right chemistry, you have to have the right things happen for your club. There are just so many variables that your roster on paper is just kind of meaningless to us at this point. We like our team. We like the guys we have in our locker room. We love our coaching staff. I feel like we’ve got a great chance to compete going into this training camp, but there are a lot of variables.”
When you signed
“We saw a talented guy who had some things that he had to overcome. The great thing about Junior is that he’s really matured as a person as well a player. I think our coaches would tell you that he is very coachable. He’s a team guy. He practices hard every day, plays hard in the games. We get his best every day, and that has allowed him to improve into a really good player for us and a guy that I think will continue to improve and get more notoriety.”
Was Jimmy Graham’s four year deal a number that he pushed for? Would you have liked to go a little higher than that?
“Certainly. That part was a give-and-take, the length. You always talk about the length, the total amount of the deal, the average per year, and the guaranteed portion. Those are the elements that get negotiated, and they’re not independent of each other. They’re all tied together. We were comfortable with four years, and obviously they were as well.”
When you go into a player’s second big contract negotiation, do they understand the process more and don’t have hard feelings about the business aspect?
“I’ll tell you in four years (laughter). I think it’s hard on players too. It’s not all roses. Guys want to maximize their value, I understand that. I think every negotiation is tough in a lot of ways. The only thing different about this was the magnitude of media coverage that it received because of the player.”
What are your expectations for
“We have high expectations for Mark and we’ve seen a lot of good things for him in the past, and he’ll be a core player for us this season. I discussed the reason why we didn’t take the option last year previously, and it just has to do with market. I expect Mark to do well and he’ll receive a nice contract, hopefully from us, but (if not) from some team in the NFL.”
Have you considered having joint practices with teams close by such as the Washington Redskins or the Pittsburgh Steelers?
“Certainly anything is possible. We’ve done that in the past (held joint practices with other teams such as Houston and New England) and I think we benefited from that. I think that the first year coming here, that’s probably not something we wanted to take on being our first year here in West Virginia. Sean (Payton) and I will discuss that going into next year, and if an opportunity exists, we will certainly look at it.”
What encouraged you to move part of training camp to The Greenbrier?
“First of all, we wanted to do something different. I think that energizes your players and your staff when you do something different every three or four years. The second thing was that we wanted to get to a place with a better climate and see if that impacted our team in terms of soft-tissue injuries and some of the other things that we did. Those were the two factors in why we wanted to change venues, and once we got a look at this region and this area, it made a lot of sense for us.”
Coming to a place like this must really limit the outside distraction the players might have at home?
“You’re always looking to limit the distractions that you have at any given camp, and certainly this looks like a good place for that.”
What’s the plan for rain, if it rains?
“I think the issue isn’t so much rain as (if) there is lightning in the area. So obviously if there is lightning, we’re not going to be able to go outside. If the fields can hold up, we’ll practice on the grass fields. If not, we’ve got a field turf field down here that we can do things on, but we’re anticipating good weather.”
A tweet from one of the players said that Sean (Payton) actually did the conditioning test with the players today. Can you describe that?
“Well I’ll let him describe that because he’s the one that went through it. Look, we have a great relationship. He’s a fantastic head coach. We’ve worked well together, our philosophies are very similar. We’ve become close personally as well as professionally, and I couldn’t ask for more from a head coach. Hopefully he feels the same.”
What does that say about him, to get out there with the players?
“It says that he’s in a lot better shape than I am, a lot more courageous than I am too. I’ll let him speak to that conditioning test, but I can tell you this: it was tough. I was a little – I wouldn’t say skeptical because I know he’s in good shape – but he put himself out there to do that.”
This seemed like a very quiet offseason other than the Jimmy Graham contract
“I don’t know that it’s a lot different (than other years). Obviously we had a few issues in the past few years I suppose. There’s always something. We’re changing venues for training camp, so there’s a lot involved with that. Obviously we had a free agency period to deal with and the draft was later. I kind of felt like it was just a normal offseason, but there’s never really ‘normal’. I thought it was a good offseason for us.”
Can you talk about the change of scenery and the difference between this training camp and the initial 2006 camp at Millsaps College?
“I think the circumstances were different. We had a new coaching staff (in 2006), we wanted to get some things established. The rules were different. It has just evolved. Like I said, the venue change (is a reason). I think we understand more about the effect of heat, or at least I hope we do, and some of those things go into the decision.”
What does an outspoken and productive player like
“Well I don’t know about the outspoken, but he’s a fantastic player for us and had a great season a year ago. We have high expectations for him, so whether he’s outspoken or silent, we’ll take all of that we can get.”