New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
Friday, May 22
We are now several months into this. How are you holding up?
"Well, I'm just fine. Look, we've got it easy compared to a lot of folks. We get to spend a lot of time with our kids (and) get to do a little schoolwork with them, although that is finally over. We are just rolling along like everyone else waiting for the world open up."
How has it been for you operationally during this COVID-19 pandemic? It's not business as usual, and yet you guys are expected to conduct business as usual?
"The first part of it, we were in draft preparation and in the draft and that went about as well as we could hope for, given the conditions. Since then, it's been more project-oriented. We've had some, a couple of things with the team, and we have had a number of projects. Things that are on your plate that you dream up, but you have not had time to do over the years. So that's really what we're into right now. Look, fortunately for us, this is normally a pretty slow time in the offseason outside of the offseason program for the players."
You mention that slow time and have you guys been spending some of that time kind of figuring out how you want to approach things going into the future? Is that still pretty fluid?
"I think that's pretty fluid until we get a little more direction from the league. We are all in a wait-and-see mode. See where this virus (proceeds) and how we handle it, and where that goes in terms of just the rest of the world. Fortunately, we have some time to do that. I know that at the league office spends a lot of time on different scenarios, but we have time yet."
Is this a situation where football being a sport where guys are accustomed to somewhat being in control, yet this is so much of an uncontrollable situation, I guess is this comfortable from that standpoint?
"Well, look, I think we always approach, in this business you always approach it as focusing on the things you can control and spending less time worrying about the things that you can't. Look, there's a lot of things in this circumstance that are outside of our control, and so we're just focusing on the things that we can have an impact on. That is all we can do really."
I know that the offseason program was mostly canceled, and the team was told, I guess, when it meets in person again, it will be training camp. Is there a vision of how that might look in terms of interaction with fans or interacting with players or how that will be handled or that still, again, something that's somewhat fluid?
"Yeah. I think that listen, there have been a lot of discussions both internally and externally about what that's going to look like when we do have training camp, and I would say this right now, we're planning on having our normal training camp. What that looks like in terms of the logistics and what is different from normal? We do not know yet, but we are having discussions about that. Obviously, there's testing issues and then the consequence of a positive test, but again, those discussions are I think primarily being held at the league level, and we will get direction from them at some point, I know. But we have got time, that's the fortunate thing here."
I am not sure what the protocols will look like, but we have a fairly decent look of what the Saints roster is going to look like. Talk about how you were able to shape it during this offseason. The limitations in terms of face-to-face meetings and workouts and those kinds of things were different, but you still were able to shape the roster I'd assume and in the vision that you guys are pleased with?
"I think, first of all, we were fortunate we have not had a lot of changes. Our coaching staff is intact. The core personnel on our team were under contract. We did have some things we needed to do in free agency, and were able to accomplish a number of those. We were able to get a couple of guys re-signed, some guys re-signed that are important to us to keep our team intact. And, look, we've got a veteran club, a good mix actually of veteran players and younger players that understand what it takes to be successful, understand what they have to do in an offseason in order to come back and be ready to go once this thing gets started. So I think we were fortunate in that we had less change than most teams or that a lot of teams had. So, this is probably, I think we're in a little bit of an advantageous position relative to that."
Some of the outside free agents you were able to acquire, actually all of them, specifically talked about the program and having spoken to people about the program that the things they have been able to institute and state how they wanted to be a part of it even though they did not get a chance to see or tour the facility and they might not have been able to see you guys in person on the ground. And yet they still felt very comfortable with accepting a contract offer from the Saints. How much pride do you take in that? I mean, what does that say about the program that you guys have been able to establish?
"We have been fortunate enough to have a lot of wins over the last three years and players want, I think more than anything else, to win. Obviously, they want to make a good living. Recognize this, somebody on every team, when you're a player that is a free agent, you probably know someone on almost every team. Whether you ran across them in college or in all-star games or in the league. So they have sources within each team to describe the circumstances, the locker room, the type of coaching that they are going to get. I think word of mouth for our club is pretty good right now. And so, yes, we certainly take pride in that. We pay attention to our locker room, and I think the facilities themselves they are important. It is important to have first-class facilities. I think we have that. We pay attention to it. We try to add something every year. We may not have the newest and brightest and shiniest, but what we have (is) a great facility."
Yeah. I think the general consensus I would assume has been that the previous two seasons, the Saints have had the best quarterback room in the NFL with, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill. Now you've got Drew Brees, Taysom, Jameis Winston, and the rookie coming in, Tommy Stevens. Is there still that feeling, or is there a feeling that this still is probably as good as any quarterback room in the NFL?
"I do not know that because look, we have not - every year is new. Every year's different, and we like obviously the room going into the season, and yet that will be determined by how we perform over the course of the next few months or the months when the season occurs. But, we like the room going in. Obviously, we have said a lot of good things about Taysom Hill. We like his future. We like the things he's done for us and believe he can be a real good quarterback in this league. Drew's accomplishments speak for themselves. Jameis Winston has done some really good things in our league, and we are excited to have him be part of that room, excited to get to know him and hopefully add to his resume. So going into the season, obviously, we liked the position, we liked the room. And I would say that's true for a number of positions on our team."
Not being able to track guys physically and not having them on-site and in person being able to see them. How difficult or challenging has that been this season? And not to say that there's guys to not be trusted, but still it's always good is to be able to lay eyes on them every day and yet you haven't been able to do that. How big or how challenging has that been?
"Well, look, it's been different, that's for sure. I don't know if challenging is the right word, because our position coaches and our coaching staff in general, they do a great job of communicating with the players during the offseason. Having conversations about where each guy is, and advice. And our players are great about taking care of themselves and taking care of each other (and) being in great shape in the offseason. They all have a routine. And that routine has been somewhat disrupted, but I'm confident in the character of our guys that when we assemble for training camp, I'm pretty confident that they will be in great shape and be ready to roll."
You can never count the Saints out as far as roster goes. But do you feel like you guys are set in some areas going into training camp or are there still areas where you feel like, hey, there could be a guy out there that you can get that can help you out?
"We're always looking to see if we can add a piece, add a player that can contribute. Yeah. So, I wouldn't say we're done. I would say we're still looking and there's avenues that we'll explore over the course of the next few months and we'll see if we can help our team."
Training camp is a ways off. Obviously the season is also a ways off. But it is something out in the future. Have you considered what football temporarily without fans would look like?
"Yeah. I think all of us think about that because it's been written a lot. Obviously, we can conduct the games, but yeah, look, it's hard to recreate the atmosphere that exists and the excitement that exists when you have fans present. That will be different. It will be unprecedented really in terms of the NFL. So yeah, we thought about it and yet, look, I'm not ready to say that that's going to happen yet. Those are discussions that are happening at the league level. They'll get and process a lot of the medical information that comes out and we'll see what happens."
How pleasing would it be to get everybody back in the building and seeing guys as opposed to conducting everything virtually the way it has had to be done the last couple of weeks?
"Yes, I think one of the things that's happened in the offseason is that I think all of us love being around the players. It is a young group. It is energetic. They're high achievers, hard workers and it is energizing to be around that group (of) people. Our guys are great people. They really are. (Our) Players in general are great people. Again, it's energizing to be around them and so obviously we miss that."