New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis joined Zig Fracassi and Bill Polian on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "Late Hits" Tuesday night to discuss the Jimmy Graham trade, Drew Brees' contract and re-signing Mark Ingram. Below are some highlights from the interview.
On what went into the Jimmy Graham trade:
"First off, it's hard to make trades in the NFL, especially bigger trades for really good players. We had a number of conversations with Seattle. At the end of the day it comes down to this: we have had a good offensive team for a number of years. We have finished top four or five in offense eight of the last nine years. We feel like we do well on that side of the ball, but we have to improve ourselves on defense.
"There's three ways to get players in our league: free agency, the NFL Draft and trades. We believe in using all avenues so we took one of our assests on offense and turned it into some resources that hopefully we can improve our defense in.
"It was a tough decision because we love Jimmy Graham. He has been a great player for us. A kid we drafted as a prospect in the late third round. He's done everything he can do to turn himself in a really great player. We will miss him but in order to improve ourselves we felt like we had to make a bold move so we did."
On what they plan to do with the Seahawks' first round pick:
"As we view the NFL Draft today, we think that there are going to be a lot of really good players available to us in that vicinity. You know how these Drafts go. You have an expectation for certain things and they may or may not come to fruition. There may be an opportunity to move up. We did that last year to get Brandin Cooks. We couldn't move up a long ways last year but it got to the point where we could move up a few spots and get a player that we coveted. If that happens again this year, we are more than willing to do that. I would say going in, obviously based upon what I have already said, we would like to improve our defense but yet we are not opposed to taking a player that helps our offense depending upon what our board looks like at the time we take the pick."
On adding C Max Unger:
"The interior line is an important part of our team, particularly with our quarterback. Max is going to fit in well. He's a really smart player. We are looking forward to getting him on our team and integrated in our offense."
Associated Press photos of new New Orleans Saints center Max Unger.
On filling the void at tight end:
"We start with the roster that we have. We have Benjamin Watson who we like a lot and has played a lot of good football for us. We have a young guy named Josh Hill that we think highly of. Obviously, we will be looking for another guy. Whether that comes in the draft or later on in free agency we will have to wait and see. We do like the guys that we have on our roster and they have been productive for us. Drew (Brees) has a way finding these guys open."
On the team's salary cap situation:
"It was tight but we have operated in that environment for a few years. It's what happens when you have a good team, have had a good team for a while and have a highly-paid quarterback. It's just the nature of the business right now. We are comfortable in that environment. We are under the cap now. We have a few more things we can do and will do to help alleviate that. We have had that plan in place for a while now. It's similar to circumstances we were in a year ago."
On what he thinks of the three-day window for teams to enter into contract negotiations prior to the new league year:
I like the three-day window. I wish it was longer to be honest with you. I wish it was a week long. Nothing that happened this week really bothers me much. I think at the end of the day as a general manager, I just want to be able to get in front of an agent and make my case before decisions are made. I like the three-day window and I don't have a problem with anything that happens. I don't know what has happened with other teams, I just know what has happened with us. I like the opportunity to get in front of agents of players that are going to be free agents."
On if Drew Brees was asked to restructure his contract:
"No, that wasn't necessary for us."
On re-signing Mark Ingram:
"We like Mark. It was a difficult decision a year ago not to put the option tender on him. I felt like at the time that wasn't the market for running backs. We like Mark and we have seen him for the last four years. We knew what we had. Some of his earlier production issues were due to injury or not enough opportunities. He got more opportunities and touches last season and he showed the rest of the world what we knew he could do. We are excited to have him back. The deal works for him and us."