(WVUE) - After another offseason of prominent veteran departures and splashy free agency signings, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis met with reporters on the eve of the team's training camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
The following is a copy of the media session, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
What goes into the decision of cutting a player with so much money tied up?
"It is a hard decision and certainly there are a lot of variables involved. The financial aspect is certainly one of them. Ultimately we made the decision that the best thing for our team going forward is to part ways with Junior Galette. He did a lot of great things for us over the last five years (and was) a really productive player. He came a long way from being an undrafted free agent to being a starter on our team and look we haven't forgotten that either. It was a very tough decision and there were a lot of variables involved but it was a decision that we made with the best interest in our team."
How disappointed were you with how all of that played out?
"I'd say we were very disappointed that that transpired but it's what it is and we can't turn the clock back. We have to make decisions with our eyes going forward so that is what we have done."
Was the video the last straw?
"I don't know that I'd characterize it that way. There were a variety of things that impacted (the decision to terminate Galette's contract). It wasn't't any one thing and ultimately we are trying to make a decision of what is best for our team moving forward, what gives us the best chance to be successful and that was the decision that we made."
Looking at the situation with Brodrick Bunkley, was that more a decision to go with another veteran interior lineman in Kevin Williams instead?
"I don't know that I would characterize it one versus the other. We had the chance to add Kevin (Williams) and it was important for our team. Brodrick has done some really good things for our team over the last three years and he is a really good influence on our locker room so that was a tough decision as well. In terms of how we use a player or what our vision for that, that is a better question for Sean (Payton) who is going to be up here right after me."
Why did you decide to cut Junior Galette just last week as possibly opposed to earlier? Was it money related?
"Well no, I don't know if it was that. There were a couple of things going on there. First of all he was injured and so we wanted to do the best thing we could in getting his rehab and getting him to the point where he could pass the physical and be ready to go which he ultimately was and then the second thing was there is an ongoing investigation by the league. We were hoping that process would have finished before we started before training camp, obviously it didn't."
Do you plan on trying to recoup some of the money owed to him or paid to him?
"I don't have any plans right now to, there are a lot of things that have to play out for that but we have given up a number of those rights by terminating his contract."
Seeing how the situation changed from September, is there anything you guys could learn through personally or maybe an evaluation standpoint?
"Yes, there are a lot of things I could learn absolutely. I don't think I am going to go through those point by point with you here but yes absolutely, we have to learn from these types of situations so I would say definitely we could learn from that. I can learn from that."
How prepared do you feel like you guys are to move forward without Junior Galette on the field?
"First of all he had a lot of production so we are going to miss that, but yet we feel like we have some players that can pick up that slack and look, that is what training camp is for, to find out what we have and how we are going to make up for that production and who that is going to be. Those answers to that question will come in the next coming month and months."
Have you ever been in a situation even close to the whole Junior Galette saga?
"Off the top of my head I can't recall a circumstance that's that similar yet, listen, all of these bigger contracts come with risk and they come in different forms of risk. Generally you're looking at a period of time where if we get past year two, three, four or whatever it is, then that risk's really negated. It is unusual for that to come out after one year. That is definitely a circumstance that I haven't had to face too many times, but off the top of my head I can't think of a similar circumstance."
Do you ever look at one incident and use that to change how you do things moving forward?
"I think this, I don't, I rarely, I shouldn't say I don't ever, I rarely do anything without my eyes being wide open and doing a lot of reflection and thought behind any decision. I think some people would say that I am too slow to act at times. So that doesn't change and yet I have to look at this circumstance and say what could we have done a little differently? What were the red flags we missed or that I missed and learn from it, absolutely. I say this all the time, we have to look at ourselves with a critical eye and that certainly includes myself in that group. We signed that contract last September with the information that we had I thought it was a good contract. This was a player that has had a lot of production for us, done a lot of really good things and felt like the arrow was up and looked at the time and I thought this was a good deal for us. It is unfortunate what happened and we just have to move forward from that. We are equipped and accustomed to dealing with adversity and overcoming it. I am pretty confident that we can do that."
Were you concerned that he would be able to void that contract if he had 12 sacks?
"There were a lot of variables, certainly that was one of them. He had the opportunity, if he would have done what he had done the year before, he could have voided that second year. We were dealing with Cam Jordan as well and I don't ever like to have two pass rushers come up (with) the contract negotiations at the same time so there are a lot of variables about why we did that at the time. And like I said, I thought it was a good decision at the time and ultimately it turned out not to be."
You renewed Cam Jordan this offseason, how do you compare the two?
"I don't think I think of it in those terms. Look, we are not going to be afraid to sign players to contracts because we had this happen. We wouldn't get any business done if we took that approach. I don't really connect the two."
Is it important to understand the maturity of a player on and off the field?
"Yes, sure, look, we have more information that comes to us now more than ever and we have to be conscious of it and we have to be conscious of how that plays in the public eye and how that effects our organization, our business and our team. There is just more than ever. It sometimes becomes overwhelming but you certainly have to pay attention to it."
Have you entered a season with this many question marks since 2006?
"I think we have a lot of question marks every year. I don't think of it as hey was there more this year than last year or the year before. We had a lot of questions after we won the Super Bowl. How are we going to react to that? How are we going to address the changes that happened on that team? Every year is different and yet it is the same in terms of you always have question marks. I know this, we have hopes and dreams for this team and we've got an opportunity over these next weeks to evaluate and prepare our club for this season and I am confident. I think we have the best coaching staff out there that can evaluate and prepare a team. I have a lot of confidence in the way we do things, the way Sean (Payton) and his staff do things and I am looking forward to the season."
In January you talked about taking a close look at this team, has the road been bumpier than you thought it would be and how would you assess the state of this team compared to a year ago?
"I do not think it is any bumpier than any other year. Obviously the situation with Junior Galette is different so that was the one thing that was of significance that was different. Otherwise I look at it like it's another year and there are not too many things when you've been in the league as long as I have that you have not seen and yet it seems like every year there's something. I don't think of it in terms of that. I think what we said in the beginning of the offseason, that we need to look ourselves with a critical eye and make tough decisions and we were able to do that. We did a lot of that and we will see the results in the coming months."
Is this the first time that you feel like you have had to tackle this type of dysfunction and issues?
"Look, first of all, I don't think we are dysfunctional at all as an organization. I think there were some things that we didn't anticipate last year on our team that we had to address and I think we've done that and I think we will see the results of that in this coming season."
Can you get a little more specific?
"Yes, I really don't want to get into details. I don't think that is the right thing to do to talk about details and things that go on within the organization so I will just leave it at that."
Do you feel about those areas?
"I feel good about where we're at. I do. I'm excited about the things that we've done. I kind of feel like we have turned back the clock to the same type of process and attitude that we came in 2006 with. I am excited to see the results of that ultimately."
Does it come to a point where no matter what organization you are in sports, how you handle adversity is critical?
"Yes absolutely, I think, I describe it like this, I think when you feel like you're a functional organization you expect to win. When you expect to win, instead of hope to win then look, you run into adversity and you overcome it and you expect to overcome it. I think it's the type of organization we are. I think we expect to overcome adversity and I know that we have people in place that can handle that. That is really what it is for us."
Both defensive captains on last year's team are no longer on the team. Is that based on their situations or their leadership?
"I do not know that I would go there because look, personnel changes, we have personnel changes every year, sometimes it involves a captain sometimes it does not and it's for different reasons. The players will elect captains. Being a captain does not necessarily preclude someone else from being a leader on the team. I think we have lots of good leaders on our team and we'll see how that plays out this season. I do think we need to have strong leadership in our locker room and I think we have that."
You guys have a lot of dead money this offseason, is that just a necessary evil?
"I hope it is not necessary. I think everyone has to deal with dead money at times. That is the nature of the way this cap works and this system works. What is difficult is the unexpected dead money and we have a little bit of that and we have to overcome it and that is part of the consequence and the decision process of how are we going to handle this? I feel like we are pretty good at that without undermining the ability to improve our roster. We will overcome it and handle it and we will be fine."
Were the reasons for all the scouting changes a reflection on free agency or did you just want fresh blood on your staff?
"The start of that was Ryan Pace got hired as the general manager of the Chicago Bears. Some of the other changes were just a change in direction, a fresh look at some things and part of that has to do with Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot taking new roles and more important roles on our team that accommodate some of their ideas. It is a variety of things."
Can you address why Jairus Byrd and Marques Colston on the Physically Unable to Perform list?
"I think this, and this really goes to all the guys currently on the PUP list or the NFL, we don't view any of those to be long-term. I am not going to address any particular individual but we don't see any of those being long-term. We feel good about where those guys are at. We knew some of them would linger into the first part of training camp. The two guys you mentioned are veteran players who they will be ready to roll soon enough. You are always concerned about players and injuries and those sorts of things but I would say our concern about those two is not that high."
You have mentioned 2006 and I think I've heard Sean Payton say it a few times, was there a point where you guys made it the theme of this offseason?
"I think right after the season when we are evaluating our team and what happened last season and talking about going forward, that was a theme that we talked about early on, getting back to some of those values and some of the processes we had in 2006, treating ourselves like we are starting fresh and new. We have to go back and do some things that maybe we assumed were happening in more recent years. It was right after the season to answer your question."
With all the comments Junior Galette has made the past few days, did that validate your decision for cutting him?
"I think you always have to keep in mind that is emotional for a player, particularly an accomplished player to be told he is not wanted anymore. I understand the emotion. Obviously we prefer and I would think it would be in his best interest to not let that emotion come out publicly but it is what it is. I wish Junior (Galette) the best. I hope that he finds a new place and he is successful. Look he is a patient player, Sean (Payton) said it the best, he is a patient player that gives everything he has on the field and we appreciated what he did for us on the field over the last five years. But I understand the emotion."
Do you have any thoughts on the Patriots' punishment?