Mickey Loomis – NFL Owners MeetingsTuesday, March 28**
We're here at the Owners Meetings with Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, and I guess off the top, we have a relocation for another year. The Oakland Raiders got the approval to move to Las Vegas. Your thoughts on the relocation.
Loomis: Man, you hate to see teams have to relocate. You understand it, but I think we'd all prefer for teams to be able to stay in the cities that they've been in. Yet, that's somebody else's franchise. Obviously the stadium deal that was available in Las Vegas was something they liked and feel like they can be successful with, so it's just the nature of the business really.
Now that's the big NFL news. The big Saints news, obviously, the Brandin Cooks trade. You guys wanted to be able to position yourself to help yourselves defensively. Do you feel like you guys were able to accomplish that?
Loomis: Well obviously, we picked up an asset in a draft pick in a draft that we feel like is really a deep draft, especially defensively. I wouldn't say that we wanted to trade Brandin Cooks. He's been a good player for us and a guy that we have a lot of respect for, was really a productive professional, good teammate. Lot of good things with Brandin Cooks, and yet we feel like obviously we have to help our defense in order to be more competitive on that side of the ball and win more games. This is an opportunity for us to do that.
Is it also a situation where this offense is a tribe and true offense that's been able to produce with changing parts over the years?
Loomis:Well, I think that we're confident as an organization in our ability to move the ball offensively and to score points. We don't take it for granted, but we're confident that we're able to do that and look we just need to improve our roster on defense, and give our guys some help. This gives us a chance to do that.
Now this obviously does not guarantee that you will pick two defensive players in the first round, but does this give you flexibility to do other things if you choose to do other things.
Loomis:Yea, I think the important thing here is that we've got five picks in the first three rounds in what we view as a pretty deep draft. We'll be able to help ourselves. Hopefully that help will be more immediate than you would normally expect with young players, but I felt like last year we got some immediate help with a number of our draft picks who did well in their first year and hopefully we can duplicate that.
Bring us up to date on the contact with Malcolm Butler, the cornerback from New England who is a restricted free agent, but obviously not under contract right now.
Loomis:Well, you know, we've had some discussions with his agent and obviously he had a visit. That's really been the extent of it to date. We'll see where that goes.
If that, I guess, obviously would be a target area for this team's secondary help and this is a draft that is deep in secondary help. Having the 11th and 32nd pick, does that kind of give you, I guess, positivity in terms of being able to fill that position or to pick up the help.
Loomis:Your offseason consists of free agency and the draft, and maybe an opportunity to make a trade or two. We've just hit this first phase of free agency. We're working on the draft, and obviously as I mentioned, we feel like it's a pretty deep draft. We have a number of picks, so we feel like we can help ourselves there, and yet, we're always looking. We're always looking for players that can help us, particularly on defense this year. We'll see how that goes.
What do you like about the free agents that you have been able to pick up so far, whether it be A.J. Klein or Manti Te'o, or the offensive lineman. What do you like about the free agent class so far?
Loomis:We went into this period looking for tough, smart players. Whether they're going to be starters or whether they're going to give us depth, in both cases. And we had a number of guys who were on our roster a year ago that are free agents that we wanted to make sure we offered contracts to, and hopefully retained. We've been able to do that for the most part and I'm excited about this class of free agents that we've got.
Specifically Ted Ginn, Jr…. I know a lot of people are probably looking at him as a Brandin Cooks replacement, and yet every player is different. He's also a guy who can return punts. Is that a specialty area that he really can help the team with?
Loomis:Look, I think he's a talented player. He's made a lot of plays against us in the past few years. We've seen first-hand some of the things he can do. We went into that with the idea that look, if we had Ted and Brandin, man we'd be an even better team. I like the pickup. He's a pro, who's been around a long time. He can import some knowledge to a young group of receivers and I'm excited to have Ted Ginn, Jr.
I know you guys go into the offseason with I think a 30-point plan, or somewhere along those lines. How many points have you been able to check off so far?
Loomis:That's a good question. I don't remember how many we had to start with, but we've been able to check off a number of them and we'll get some more in the draft, and hopefully pickup another item along the way, but I think we're off to a good start.
Now of course we're here at the Owners Meetings. A couple of rules changes implemented. The leaper has been tossed out now, I guess a year too late, unfortunately for Saints fans. Some of your thoughts on the rules changes that have gone into effect.
Loomis:Well, I think most of them are pretty minor in the entire scheme of things. As you mentioned, we were the victim of that leaper block a couple of times last year. I liked the play personally. I think it's a real athletic play, but I understand for safety and health reasons, the reasons that it was changed. But, like you said, it was one year too late for us.
And now we head into the rest of it. A couple of pro days coming up, obviously the NFL Draft on the horizon. Is there anything that we should be looking for from the Saints, we know you guys remain active in free agency also?
Loomis: Yea, listen. We're always looking. Our college scouts and a lot of our coaches have been at a number of Pro Days, so we're doing all of our due diligence on this draft class and we've got a lot more work to do between now and the draft. We've got to be right on in this draft, particularly with five picks in the first three rounds. We need to make those count and I know we will.
At this point in the process, how important is it when you bring guys in for a visit because some of them you were able to see at senior bowl, some you were able to see at the NFL Combine. How important is it to bring in other players to Saints camp just to talk to them and get a feel for them?
Loomis:Part of the process is you always want to have some kind of face to face with the players you're eventually going to bring into your organization. Some of it is information that you need to glean, some of it is just an intuition and a feel for the type of person that you're bringing into your building. Does he fit the culture that you've created in your building? Those visits are really important, along with all the other pieces of information from physicals to drill work to the actual game study that we do which is pretty extensive. All of its important, all of it factors into the decision making process, and the more information the better and that includes the visit.