Media Availability Following Conclusion Of 2011 NFL Draft
Saturday, April 30, 2011
With the court ruling yesterday, are you back to the rules prior to rulings earlier in the week?
“Yes, we’re back at the starting point until we hear differently, which is basically no contact with the players, there’s not really an exception, but we do have some third party contact on the rehab players.”
How many players came to the facility on Friday?
“It was just a few.”
Did you talk to guys on the phone too?
“No, nothing like that. When we were able to talk to them, we were just talking about their plans, what we would do in terms of an offseason program. Obviously we weren’t going to do that this weekend, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, but we were going to be able to start that on Monday. There was just some communication on that, some communication with the guys who came in about the plans going forward. That’s all ending now. We didn’t try to get playbooks to anybody or anything like that during that period.”
Do you have any thought to how busy you will be at some point in this offseason?
“No, I know we’re going to be. I know this; we’re ready to go whenever the trigger’s pulled, whenever we get the green light, we’re ready to go. Every year, I say we have a plan. That’s a plan, 21, 22, 28 bullet points. These are the things we want to do. That’s ready to go. When we have the green light and the opportunity to do that, we’ll proceed in a normal fashion. Free agency in general is a pretty compact period. Everything happens in the first week or two. I kind of anticipate that’s going to be similar whenever it happens. We’re waiting, patiently waiting. The league and the union will handle their business at some point (and) we’ll be ready to go.”
Do you think free agency will change with this draft?
“That’s a good question and I can’t answer it because I haven’t said let’s take a look at this. Clearly we drafted two ends and a Sam linebacker. It might affect who we go after depending on who’s a free agent. I have to look at that. That’s something we have to look at. It won’t take long.”
Do you worry about how many pending free agents you have?
“When I walked in, I heard Sean making a comment about how part of our job is to worry and we do that. The numbers sound a lot more, 27, 28, but most years it’s in that 18, 19, 20 range. It seems daunting when you think of it in that term. You boil it down to the who? Does the guy want to come back to New Orleans? Do we want him back? When you start thinking about on an individual basis, it doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as me. We’ve been through it before. I’m a realist. I understand that we could lose somebody we don’t expect to lose. That’s just the nature of the business. There’s no sense in panicking or worrying too much about that. We’re going to have a plan. We’re going to understand what we can and can’t do financially. We’re going to put our best foot forward when the time comes and we’ll adjust if it doesn’t go according to our plan.”
Could you have a rookie minicamp on short notice even with the rulings going back and forth?
“Yes, Sean (Payton) and I have talked about what the schedule might be. Yesterday before the stay we had a plan and we had an adjusted calendar ready to go. So, depending on how long this period is whether it’s a few days, a few weeks or a month, we’ll be able to readjust that calendar accordingly. I think this, it’s late April here. It’s not like we’re talking about June 15 or a date like that at this point. There’s a lot of time to make adjustments and fit normal activities into that period at this point. We’ll see. It’s out of our hands.”
Is this draft a better marriage of needs and values than you can remember in most years?
“Yes, I think that’s probably true. We said going in we wanted to address our front seven in a perfect world. I clearly think we were able to do that and so that’s probably the case. I think the wild card here is running back. I don’t think we went in thinking we have to get a running back. That wasn’t a stated goal by any means. By the same token when you’re able to get what is the best running back in the draft, obviously you seize that opportunity and fit him in.”
Is this a real good true start to an offseason?
“Yes, I think the draft is always a real positive and uplifting experience for every team and there’s an expectation that we have for these guys. Sometimes it’s fulfilled sooner. Sometimes it’s fulfilled later and obviously sometimes it’s never fulfilled. At this point we have high hopes and expectations for all these guys. I’m excited about the character level of this group, what we know about them so far, how they’ve reacted to being drafted by the New Orleans Saints. There’s a general enthusiasm and passion to come to New Orleans that maybe you don’t always feel at least in past year. It’s been exciting. It’s been good.”
Sean Payton talked to
Do you feel as good about the situation as he does?
“I think we’ve clearly stated that we see Reggie in our plans and so I don’t know how to make that any clearer. Obviously there’s a contract issue that will have to be resolved at some point. We’re not a able to do that right now and so when the time comes and we’re able to do it, we’ll try to get that resolve and if we can, great. Reggie won’t be gone because we don’t want him. I don’t know how to state it any other way. We have a plan for him. We want him in our program. He’s been a great contributor to our team. We wouldn’t have been to or won a Super Bowl without him and so we want that to continue. I don’t know how to state that any other way.”
Did you feel the need to reach out to him yesterday?
“Yes, I think that happens often. You draft someone at a position and you have someone else. We talked to Deuce (McAllister) after Reggie was drafted. Deuce came in and we talked to him and visited with him for a long time because he was a little bit down, wondering where that left him. We made that clear that he was a vital part of our plan going forward and so that happens a lot.”
Doesn’t drafting Mark Ingram give you contract leverage with Reggie?
“Maybe. I don’t know. I think this was going to be an issue regardless of whether we drafted Mark or not. Reggie stated that himself a few months ago. It was going to be an issue whether we drafted Mark or not. I don’t look at it as leverage. I really don’t.”
Are there enough footballs for all these running backs?
“Yes, absolutely. That’s up to Sean (Payton) though.”
Aren’t there a lot of guys back there?
“Here’s what we have on our team. We have a lot of unselfish guys in terms of wanting to win. We have a good group of receivers that understand that culture in our building. Drew’s (Brees) going to give them their opportunities and Sean will give our running backs, all of them, Pierre (Thomas), Chris (Ivory), Reggie (Bush), all of them their opportunities. They’ll come. We’ll be better as a team for it. I’m not concerned about that. You have to have the right kind of guys in your building to pull that off. I think all of them are the right kind of guys.”
Are these guys who could have more substantial numbers if they didn’t have to share as many carries with another team?
“Maybe. I don’t know the answer to that for sure. It’s a good question. I just don’t know if it’s unusual or not. I know this. Our guys are going to look at each other and say we want to win and if this gives us the best chance to win, then they’re going to be for it.”
One year removed from a Super Bowl, is it safe to say that the core group exists to win it again, with some additions at some other spots?
“Yes, I believe that. We have some work to do. We have some players to re-sign that are part of our core group, but I believe that, especially as long as we got number nine, I think we have an opportunity, yes.”