New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
Video call with New Orleans media
Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021
What did you guys do differently in terms of sending coaches and staff to Mobile and who did you have to cut out with the limitations as you guys typically send a larger contingent due to the proximity?
"It's limited to 10 (employees) per club and so we have our 10. It's primarily our college scouting staff, myself, Jeff Ireland, some of our area scouts and our national scouts as well. That's a little different. Typically if available and coaches are all available, we would bring a big contingent with us because of the proximity and then we want to support Mobile and support the Senior Bowl as well, but this year because of the Covid restrictions, we're limited to 10 people."
Not just Mobile, but just scouting in general, but what have been the challenges for college scouting with Covid-19?
"It's been tough on our college scouting staff. They've been very limited in what they can do. They weren't able to really do any on-campus visits this past year. They could go to games, but really they're limited in the sense they can't go in the football offices and the coach and player on-campus visits, so that has to be done virtually and (combined) with a lot of film study as well. It's been considerably different."
Obviously this offseason will be a little different with Drew Brees' situation, how do you handle the offseason knowing he is pondering what he will do in 2021?
"I don't think it's a lot different than last year, where we wait for him. We have a lot of other planning to do. There's more unknowns right now than knowns in the sense that we don't yet know what the cap's going to next year, even a narrow range we don't have yet and so we have a lot of planning to do. We haven't completed our evaluations, our roster evaluations from last season. At this point in time there's more unknowns than there are knowns."
You touched on that question, but where are you on roster evaluations and determining positions of need?
"No, we're not anywhere close to that. We're going to meet next week and begin that process of evaluating the roster and then until we get through that process and understand exactly what resources we're going to have available to us, we really don't have an action plan in place yet."
How important is it to retain Trey Hendrickson and is he a big item for you in the offseason in free agency?
"Trey had a great season and a breakout season for him and obviously he's going to be an attractive free agent for anyone, but again, that's all part of the planning process. Certainly we would want him back, but I can't really say how strong a play we can make for that until we know where the cap's going to be this year and as we go through the roster evaluations and start making our choices."
I know you guys have a pretty good record against the salary cap when it seems it handcuffs you, but is this a more daunting situation than in the past?
"Yeah, I think this, look, for sure it's going to be challenging and yet I don't want to speculate as to how challenging it's going to be until we have a better understanding of what's going to be available, not just for this year, but even for the year after. So I can't really answer that question, other than to say, yeah, it's going to be daunting. I think it's going to be daunting for a majority of teams in our league."
Do you think because of the combination of the cap and the possibility of having to sign a new quarterback, do you have to determine between putting all the resources towards a world championship now or looking a little more towards the future than in the past?
"Yeah, look, again, that's kind of tough to answer right now. But we have a great roster and I can't foresee a circumstance where we aren't going to say, man, we're going to do everything we can to win now and compete for a championship. But again, it's difficult to really get into specifically what we need to do until we have more information."
When you mention those unknowns, do you have several projections you apply? And how does scouting change under this environment?
"Yeah, I would say we have a framework of things that we know we can do and whether we need to do them and to what extent remains to be seen. But yeah, I mean we (have) thought about, okay, the different levels that we'll have to deal with."
Broad question here, but where does this team need to improve to advance further in the season?
"Again, I think the answer to that will kick out of our end of season evaluations and there's a lot of variables to that, including who are the free agents on our team? Who do we end up losing? There are just too many unanswered questions for me to answer that specifically, because we do not have all of the information yet. Certainly, we can always improve. We're always looking to improve, but give me a few weeks here, and I'll be able to answer that a little more specifically."
What will the impact be in losing Terry Fontenot and do you have someone you will replace him with yet?
"Yeah, look, Terry Fontenot has been fantastic for us. And we're excited that he gets this opportunity. We have some guys in the building that we have a lot of faith in and talented guys. And so we'll adapt. Look, you never like to lose good people, both in the personnel and the coaching side. But we're excited for all those guys and the opportunities they've received."
What is the timeline there in terms of making a change there and putting someone in that position and with the assistant coaching staff changes with the coaches that received promotions elsewhere?
"Yeah, I don't know that we have a set timetable. We're going to take our time, make sure we make the right decision. There's no hurry. There's no reason to be in a hurry. It's more important to get it right than it is to do it fast."
Even though coaches often move around, does it feel that there are more changes than usual this year?
"Yeah, I would say it does feel like more than usual. But part of that may be just that so many guys had opportunities to interview and were close. Not just the guys that ended up getting opportunities, but some of the guys that interviewed and got close to being offered new opportunities. So it does feel like there was a lot of that. I think when we just count the numbers, it probably isn't too unusual, but it does feel like that, I agree."
When Sean (Payton) did his season ending press conference, he talked about liking the players in the quarterback room, Taysom (Hill) and Jameis (Winston). How do you all maybe reconcile that with also potentially, if you do explore veterans who may be available during the offseason, knowing that you like what you have, even if it's a little bit more improvement, but there may be proven veterans out there in some capacity? Is that something you all discuss and how have you kind of threaded the needle to do both?
"Yes, again, the answers to that will kick out over the next few weeks as we go through evaluations and talk about our roster, we talk about every position. Generally speaking, we target our own guys first, but again, the answers to that remains to be seen here and we'll get the answers to that over the next few weeks."
It looks like there are going to be a lot of quarterback movement across the league similar to 2020. How, if it all, does that change your offseason process?
"I think you are asking me about the quarterbacks that are going to be out there. There was a number last year and it looks like there might be a number available this year. Again, all that evaluation and what happens with that still remains to be seen. We will talk about every position again, but we like Taysom (Hill), we like Jameis (Winston), what they did for us. But again, just like every other position, we're going to have a lot of discussions over the next week or two and move on from there."
I know, you're still really early in the prospect evaluation process part of it, but have you noticed any strengths of this draft class or any areas where you think there's a little bit more talent?
"Yeah, I don't have the answer to that yet. Although, man, I was really impressed with so far with the group here in Mobile. I think they've got a lot of talent, a lot of good looking players and it feels like we know less about this class of players than any class in recent memory, just because of the Covid restrictions, the restrictions on scouts getting into campuses, as well as the fact that there was so (many) fewer games played in college football this year, so I'm anxious to get going with our group, but I feel good about it just at this first glance."
Are you guys still getting two third round compensatory picks for the Falcons hiring Terry Fontenot or is that not finalized?
"Yeah, I think it's final. I mean, I haven't gotten a notification or anything like that. But, I'm not sure what the process is, if they give that. But, certainly, he qualified and I'm expecting that."
When people say the Saints should just draft a player in the third or fourth round and have him ready to start in two years and they make it sound easy, when it really isn't? Can you explain that and the evaluations that go into it?
"Well, look, I think first of all, there have been a number of examples. Russell Wilson is an example of a guy that didn't go in the first round and was developed and actually played early on. But I think this, for you to draft a player in the second or third round, you have to love the player, you need to have a vision for him. And often, look, we've had guys that we've had our eye on and a target on. But, they got taken before we could get them. So, over the years that's happened. So, I think playing the position number one and being successful at it is a difficult proposition in the NFL. So there's that part of the development. But it can certainly occur and has occurred. And yeah, we'll see what happens this year. I think there's a number of good quarterback prospects in this draft."
Do you know how many compensatory picks you will have in addition to the ones related to the hiring of Terry Fontenot that you will have?
"Yeah, I don't have that information yet. Typically, we get that at the labor seminar, which didn't occur this year. But, they're going to do that I think in the next few weeks and hopefully we'll have an answer on what we have."
Do you guys have to give up a fifth round pick for a play time incentive to San Francisco for Kwon Alexander?
"It's a good question. I don't have the answer to it at my fingertips here."
Is Terry Fontenot taking any scouts with him to Atlanta or has that been discussed?
"Currently he is not."