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Saints EVP and GM Mickey Loomis State of the Union On Eve of Training Camp

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New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis

Thursday, July 30, 2009

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Opening Statement:We had two draft picks signed today. We're pleased about having agreements with both of them last night. Khai Harley did a great job for us in our office and both of the agents did a good job in making sure those guys were signed and here for the meeting this morning. I would say there's no progress at all on Malcolm (Jenkins). I'm pessimistic in terms of having anything done with him in the near future.

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Q: Besides money is the fact that his agency is representing nine first round draft picks a factor at all?

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A:I think that's some of it, but it's a slow process. It's been a slow process for a number of years now. I think it seems like it's slower than it has been. I think some of it has to do with a couple of agencies having a large number of players.

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Q: Does the economy have anything to do with it?

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A:I think every year, part of the issue is the dollars. I think the economy definitely affects that. It's affected all of our teams and we all have to be conscious of our costs and our expenses and yet, it seems like the agents and representatives to these guys are oblivious to that.

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Q: Is it a situation where the signing of the 13th pick could slot things a little?

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A:Not if the deals are of the magnitude of increase of the few deals that I've seen done. That's going to create a real issue for us. We're not in that market. What you say is true. These draft picks are slotted, but I'm pessimistic about this year and the magnitude of some of the increases we've seen given where we're at economically. I'm pessimistic about that.

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Q: Where are you and Ben Dogra in terms of talking?

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A:We've given them a proposal and they haven't gotten back to us. They have a lot of guys to do.

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Q: Are you surprised not only at the lack of communication, but at the asking prices?

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A:We haven't gotten a proposal from them, so it's hard for me to be surprised at what they're asking for, because I don't know what they're asking for, but there's only a few deals done. Yes, I'm surprised by the magnitude of increase on some of the deals, but it is what it is.

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Q: What is the increase in some of the deals? Is it ten percent?

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A:You hear a bunch of things in the way you calculate it. Ten percent wouldn't scare me as much. Some of the numbers you are hearing are closer to 20 percent.

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Q: Is this fuel for a rookie wage scale?

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A:I don't know the answer to that. I envy that circumstance when it comes around to negotiating these deals. I envy the system that the NBA has in terms of just draft picks, but we have to do what's right for the New Orleans Saints and we have to work within the parameters of our salary structure as well as be conscious of the system we have and the way draft picks get paid. I think it's going to be difficult.

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Q: Did you see this coming?

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A:I think this isn't atypical. A year ago we were six days into camp before Sedrick (Ellis) signed. There's nothing unusual about it.

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Q: Give us your take about Sean Payton and the job he's done?

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A:I love Sean Payton as our head coach. I'm more sold on Sean Payton as our coach than the day we hired him. I don't know if I can be any clearer than that.

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Q: Are you aware of any avenues for appeal left for Charles Grant and Will Smith in fighting or delaying their suspensions?

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A:I'm not aware of anything other than that they are suspended for the first four games. What I don't know is in terms of the two Williams' in Minnesota and their court case. I don't know if the result of that will have any effect on our guys or not. We're anticipating that they're going to be out for the first four games and we've prepared for that event.

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Q: Would you call the proposal you made to Malcolm Jenkins' agent preliminary?

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A:I'd call it a first proposal. There are give and take in negotiations and lots of issues.

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Q: Do you anticipate Malcolm's holdout being longer than Sedrick's?

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A:I don't know that. I can't answer that. There are a lot of things that can happen overnight.

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Q: What makes you optimistic about this season?

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A:I think the type of people that we have on our team in terms of players and coaches. Having Drew Brees as our quarterback and Sean Payton as our head coach, Marques Colston at the receiver position and the offensive line that we have. I'm just optimistic because of the type of people we have in our building because I know winning is important to them. I think that our team collectively is disappointed in the results we've had the last two years. I think they all believe we're a good team and I think they have a chip in their shoulder to prove that.

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Q: Is there any design to having the second-oldest roster in the league?

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A:We pay attention to that. We pay attention to the age and experience on our team. One of the things that we've got in our minds is we do want to get a little younger going forward. I think we do have a core group of guys that are younger players. Reggie's (Bush) a younger player still, Tracy Porter, Marques Colston. We got a core group of guys that are young players that are contributors to our team. I'm not overly concerned about it.

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Q: In terms of some of your free agency moves, was there a thinking you wanted more of a veteran presence?

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A:I think the guys you're talking about are all defensive players. I think one of the things we thought about defensively was that we wanted to bring some additional leadership on that side of the ball.

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Q: Did you guys consider extensions with Lance Moore, Jahri Evans and Jammal Brown?

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A:We did. We talked to the agents of a couple of those guys and we weren't able to make any progress. I'm hopeful that all those players will be here for the long term.

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Q: Has it changed because of the possibility that they could be restricted free agents next year because of the uncapped year rules?

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A:There are a lot of variables. There's the uncertainty that exists with the CBA. Where we are in terms of our resources. This year and I mentioned it a couple times is the first year in quite some time that we've been pressed up against the salary cap, so we have to conscious of that.

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Q: Do you think this team is really close to doing something really special?

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A:Who knows until we play these games, but we felt like we had some needs we needed to address and we did that for the most part and so we'll just see what the results are. I think getting healthy is an important factor for us and I feel good about the health of our team coming into this training camp.

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Q: Can you address the change in long snappers?

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A:I think a lot of times when you're talking about positions like the snapper, it's not your first priority as you get into the offseason and so there wasn't an expectation that Jason Kyle was going to be available. I have a history with Jason Kyle. In Seattle we drafted him. I'm very familiar with him, had an expectation that he was going to be back in Carolina. That position's one where guys that do a great job are going to stay with the same franchise for a long period of time. It got to the point where he was not going to be back with Carolina, so let's bring him in, let's talk to him, let's work him out, let's see what the differences are and when he came we did that and made the change.

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Q: Would you have stayed with Kevin Houser had Jason not been available?

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A:I think we probably would have.

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Q: Is he the only other snapper that came in for a workout?

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A:He's the only snapper we brought in for a workout.

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Q: Have you finalized your black and gold event plans?

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A:We're going to have the scrimmage here. It's going to be the seventh.

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Q: Will you have it at the facility?

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A:We're going to do it here, like a regular practice in terms of having it on the fields.

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Q: Will you open it up to the public?

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A:We're still discussing that because obviously we have limited space here. I think this weekend and how we handle the crowds will help us determine that.

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Q: Was there any talk of having it at somewhere like Tad Gormley Stadium?

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A:We did. In fact we talked a lot about that. We decided we have the two preseason games and our fans will have an opportunity to see us out there. We have open practices. At the end of the day, we felt this first year back at training camp, it makes more sense for us logistically to have it here and reduce the number of logistics we have at least for this first year. But we're open to discussing that in the future, maybe taking it on the road a few times and that was really successful for us. We want it to be accessible to all of our fans in the region, not just New Orleans. We're going to talk about it in the future, but I think this first year, because of the changes coming back from Jackson and Millsaps, we wanted to reduce the number of logistics.

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Q: Does Malcolm Jenkins' intelligence help the situation where a holdout might not hurt him as much?

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A:There's no less urgency at all. I'm urgent to get the deal done. I'm just pessimistic. It's not that we're less urgent and it's as important for him to be here as any player, regardless of where he's at. Let's not forget he missed part of that offseason program because of the graduation date he had at Ohio State. He's behind already to some degree.

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Q: Are there any newcomers in veterans or rookies that you brought in you are impressed with?

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A:I think it's too early to say that. There's no one that's been disappointing. It's easier to say that. There's been no surprise. I think sometimes we get too excited seeing these guys in shorts at the minicamps and the OTA days. We end up being disappointed when we get to training camp. There's no one off the top of my head I can single out.

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Q: What are some elements that you are looking to see with your team?

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A:I think we saw one today in the conditioning of our team, which is as good as it's ever been, seeing them back and ready to go. That's a good start. How we practice and how we prepare over the next two or three weeks will be a big indicator for us.

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Q: Was there anyone in condition that caught your eye?

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A:I don't think anybody exceeded what I thought they could do. I think Marques Colston in conditioning his body, Will Smith I'm excited about. Those two guys off the top of my head jumped out. Lynell Hamilton/Skyler Green.aspx">Skyler Green I think looks really fit. There were a number of guys like that. We had guys finishing that conditioning test real early. It wasn't like they were finishing it on the last count. They were finishing it with plenty of room to spare. That was exciting.

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Q: Is it a good sign Malcolm Jenkins is in New Orleans already?

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A:That's a real good sign. I don't have any doubt about his desire to be here his dedication and wanting to do the right thing. He's a bit of a hostage to the negotiations. It's just the way the system works. He wants to be here more than anyone. I understand that.

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Q: You mentioned the players being disappointed the last couple years. How disappointed have you been?

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A:Very disappointed. It's always disappointing when you haven't achieved your goals with your first goal being making the playoffs, especially when you feel like you have the capability of doing that. It's a disappointment for everybody in our building. We're all competitive and how that comes out sometimes is different. We all feel that way.

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Q: Has Mr. Benson mentioned it?

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A:He's been as disappointed as anyone. He also recognizes where we're at as a team and how far we've come in three short years. The response that our fans have had and the new deal with the state and the Superdome and keeping the team here, all the things that have happened, there's a lot of really, really good things that have happened. We just want a few more good things to happen. Let's win the division, let's make the playoffs, let's make a real strong run and get in the Super Bowl. That's what we're aiming for.

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Q: Do you agree with the assessment that the time is now for this team with Drew Brees at quarterback?

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A:Absolutely, that's a key element that's hard to obtain. When you have that you want to take advantage of it, no question about it. It's our responsibility to make sure we have the players at the other positions and around him that can help him. It's up to those guys to perform at that level. That's what our expectations are.

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Q: Do you feel like you have that?

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A:I think we can always get better. We're always looking to do that. I think we've shown we're capable of competing with anyone. That's the basis. I think we'll be fine.

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Q: What kind of players is one your short list?

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A:I'd rather not say the names, but typically what we'll have at any given time at any position, the top four or five guys we'll have a ready list that you describe as our pro scouting department has put together. We'll have a ready list of younger guys that our coaching staff has had input on. If we have an injury or a need, we'll go right to that list and get those guys in here. We've already been in contact with those agents and a lot of those players have had workouts over the past three months with us. We're ready to go. That's no different than any other team.

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Q: Is there a big name out of the 11 guys that worked out yesterday?

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A:The group we had in the other day was all younger players?

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Q: How do you weigh bringing a veteran in and getting him into camp as opposed to evaluating your younger players?

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A:It's not a science. The deeper you go into camp, the more inclined you're to go with a veteran player that knows what it takes to play in that first game, that knows the speed of the game changes from preseason to regular season, that understands the terminology if it's a new team. Oftentimes we'll bring back a veteran that was on our team previously in the prior years. There are a lot of factors there. The farther we get into camp, the more likely it's going to be a veteran player or an older player.

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Q: Are Deuce McAllister and Mike McKenzie healthy enough to play right now?

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A:*I don't know, because we haven't given either one of them a physical recently. I don't know the answer to that. *

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Q: Is there a question that you want to see answered on your team in camp?

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A:There's a lot. I'd rather not say the things I'm concerned about right now. We all have concerns and a new one comes up everyday.

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