Phoenix – More significant than the rumors that the New Orleans Saints might be willing to trade quarterback Drew Brees this offseason, General Manager Mickey Loomis said, is where the words have origin.
"I don't know where those got manufactured from," Loomis said Monday, speaking to several media members at the NFL Meetings in Phoenix. "I haven't made a single call asking anybody about Drew Brees.
"I think that's, in general, some media members who have too much time on their hands and they start coming up with these 'what if' scenarios. So, that's the extent of that."
Loomis, in fact, stressed that he has a high confidence level in the quarterback who has directed the Saints offense since 2006, Coach Sean Payton's first season. The Saints have led the NFL in total offense five times since 2006, and never have finished lower than sixth with Payton as head coach.
During that time Brees has become the franchise all-time leader in every passing category, as well as a three-time All-Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler, two-time Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year and co-NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year (2006).
Likewise, Loomis said, the notion that every Saints player was available for the right offer this offseason also was an incorrect one.
"There have been a few moves, we've done some things," he said. "We've got what ultimately ends up being a list of somewhere around 19 or 20 items that we want to get accomplished in an offseason. I didn't think that this year was any different than any other year, other than there are a couple of names involved and a couple of moves involving names that people are familiar with, good players.
"And, obviously, trades aren't as common in the NFL as they are in some of these other sports and so when you do a big trade, it gets a lot of attention. So I get that. (But) we've never put a 'For Sale' sign out on all of our players. I've read that a couple of times, that anything and everything was up for grabs. That was never true, and isn't true.
"And yet, at the same time, you get calls from teams all the time asking about certain things and certain players. We're always available to listen. That doesn't mean that we're shopping players or that we're trying to make wholesale roster changes or anything in the way that some of these articles describe it."
Loomis said that the trade of tight end Jimmy Graham, and a fourth-round pick, to Seattle for center Max Unger and a first-round pick, was a development that evolved.
"That's the best way to describe it, it evolved," he said. "We're trying to do some things to help our overall team. We've been fortunate to have a really good offense for the entire time that Sean Payton has been our head coach. Five of the nine years, we've finished first (in total offense). We've been able to generate offense throughout that period and yet, our defense has been up and down.
"When you look at your team, you're trying to assess the assets that you have and how can we help ourselves in areas of weakness, and sometimes that requires you to take a strength of your team and turn it into something else.
"Jimmy's a special player, but we've got some guys that we have confidence in in (tight ends) Ben (Watson) and Josh (Hill). There will be other guys on offense that help pick up the production that he's had for us – Mark Ingram can do more, and C.J. Spiller, and Brandin Cooks we have high hopes for and we've seen some good things from. It's not just any one person necessarily replacing his production. It's a number of guys on our team."
Other moves also left vacancies that will provide opportunities for other players to step in.
Left guard Ben Grubbs was traded to Kansas City in exchange for a fifth-round pick, and linebacker Curtis Lofton, who led the team in tackles in each of his three seasons as a Saint, was released.
"There's lots of variables involved," Loomis said. "Both of those guys were good players for us and did a lot of really good things and have tread on the tires, both of them. And yet, when you look at your team and the construction of the cap and every variable on your team, you've got to do some things. All those pieces were involved in those decisions."
However, even with the losses, the Saints have been able to make significant additions. Spiller, a free agent running back from Buffalo who also is a standout returner and receiver, agreed to terms on a four-year deal. And free agent cornerback Brandon Browner, who agreed to terms on a three-year contract, started and won the last two Super Bowls with Seattle and New England, respectively.
"The proof (of the effectiveness of the signings) will be in the season and how it impacts our team," Loomis said. "I think every team would say they're pleased with the things that they've done in an offseason, and we're no different.
"(But) we've still got a long ways to go here – there are other players available, we've got an important draft coming up, we've got five picks in the first three rounds and we have to take advantage of that."