New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis spoke with reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Tuesday. Below are some highlights from the interview. Watch the full interview above.
Any progress with Jimmy Graham's contract situation?
"No, not in the last few days but we've got some time."
Are you concerned about it at all?
"I'm concerned about it like I'm concerned about any contract for an unrestricted free agent that we'd like to have back. This isn't our first big deal. It's a process you have to go through and we'll do that."
Can you explain the CBA? If a player plays a percentage of snaps at tight end or receiver is there a certain percentage that you can't franchise tag them?
"Not that I'm aware of. You're asking me what position? This business about what position he is"
"Look, he's a tight end. That's where we drafted him. That's where we play him. In our view, he is a tight end. That's what makes him valuable."
So if you had to franchise tag him?
"We'll see. Look, it's way too early for us to start talking about that business. We've got some time."
There is nothing that would preclude you from tagging him as a tight end?
"We're going to franchise him, yeah, if that is necessary. Look, we are a long ways from that so I don't know if it's worth discussing right now."
"What makes you think I watched the games? (laughter) Listen, we're right there. We are in the playoffs and had opportunities to win the game in Seattle and we didn't. They were the better team in that game. We are confident in our building that we can play and beat any team on a given day. We (have) felt that way for quite some time."
In terms of the offensive line, you guys are really good at finding diamonds late in the draft.
"I think this, we're always looking for young offensive lineman. We are looking for depth. We feel real good about where Terron Armstead (is) and how he did in the latter part of the season when he received a chance to play. We have another young player, Tim Lelito, who we are excited about. We've got good players in the offensive line with Ben (Grubbs) and Jahri (Evans) and Brian de la Puente and Zach (Strief). We've got a really good coach (Bret Ingalls) at that position who does a really great job at developing guys. We've had a willingness to take and develop younger players in the offensive line. I don't see that changing as we go forward."
As far as money and free agency, do you think you'll be able to get under there comfortably where you'll be pretty active?
"We'll we've got some work to do. There is no question about it. We had work to do last year at this time. I would say it's similar. It's similar this year compared to where we were last year. When you have a good team for a period of time like we've had then obviously you have good players. You have to pay the going rate to keep then and we've been able to do that for a pretty good stretch of time and it doesn't leave us much room as we get to this position and yet we know how to navigate and manage that. We'll do that in the coming months before the next league year begins."
You've lost several assistant coaches to college head coaching jobs and NFL coordinator jobs since Sean Payton arrived. Can you talk about the challenge you face when replacing them?
"A couple of things here, I think that speaks to the program that Sean (Payton) has created and the type of coaches that he brings, smart, really good football coaches. When you have those and you have success, they end up with opportunities elsewhere. We've had a number of guys move onto really good jobs and do a great job at other places. Yeah, it's difficult to replace those. You hate to lose them but it's a good thing, a really good thing. It means we've got good coaches in the building that are doing a good job."
Are you for the elimination of the extra point?
"You know, I just read that yesterday and the discussion about that. I haven't thought about it enough to say that I'm for it or against it. It's interesting to think about because they have become so automatic. It's just something interesting to think about. Yet, there is a part of me that doesn't want the game to change. We've been so successful with it so far. That'll be up for discussion this offseason and I'm sure the competition committee will review it first. We'll see if it gets to the rest of us."
Is it a balancing act to keep an eye on injured players and how their progress is and free agency?
"It's definitely something that you pay attention to. We've had a lot of injuries this season that didn't get talked about a lot. We had about 15 or 16 guys on injured reserve by the end of the year. A number of them were full season or a majority of the season type of injuries and really it's a credit to our coaching staff, particularly on defense because that's where a bulk of these injuries were and for them to do as well as we did on defense with a number of different guys playing. It's also an opportunity for younger players to step up and we saw a number of players do that and perform well. But yes, it is a balancing act in the sense that, 'hey who do we have coming back, who is going to come back full strength, when are they going to come back' so we spend a lot of time talking about those guys and looking forward to their contributions in the coming season."
How hard will it be to have as good as an offseason as last year with Rob Ryan, Keenan Lewis and all the guys you drafted?
"It turned out exceptional but I don't think you know that when it's happening. You're hopeful but our success during the offseason is solely dependent on our success during the season so we're not going to know that. We've got a lot of great people in our building, scouts, coaches and executives. We know what we're doing so I feel confident that we're going to have a good offseason."