NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After two straight offseasons that led to 7-9 seasons, the Saints enter the down time of 2016 confident in their ability to build on a 3-1 finish to the 2015 campaign.
General Manager Mickey Loomis spoke with select media members Thursday and expressed his confidence in the organization's ability to adapt to roster changes "Where do we need players? We go through musts, needs, and wants by process. There's going to be musts, things that we have to get and there's going to be needs that we need to get but aren't as critical and then there's wants and those are usually depth issues. So we'll go through that process and that will determine what we need and then we've got to figure out where we're going to go to get it."
Before the Saints can embark on free agency signings, they must first get under the salary cap by the league mandate, March 15th. Some projections have the team already over the cap and a big chunk of their commitments are tied up with Drew Brees' $30m hit but Loomis is confident that it will all work itself out. "Drew's gonna be our quarterback and we'll figure out how we're going to handle contract, whether it stays the same and remains in place or if we do something different. That's all part of what we've got to figure out in the coming weeks. I keep reading how we're in dire straits with the cap, this, that and the other. Listen, it's not a great cap situation but it's not as dire as I think sometimes it's painted to be. We know where we're at, we know what we have to do. Some of that gets taken care of or our plan gets a little more dynamic depending on our evaluations and what our offseason plan is."
As for the drama that never really unfolded regarding head coach Sean Payton's potential departure, Loomis remains confident in the winningest coach in franchise history and his commitment to the program. "Listen, 100%, this guy is a great head coach. He's a great head coach, period. I've seen it first hand. Look at his record." Payton has two seasons left on his current contract, which pays him $8m per year but Loomis also has an extension on his radar "It'll come up. If you go back and look and Sean has said this, it's taken maybe ten minutes, we've been able to do those contracts and most of the time, it's been when he's got time remaining, or at least a year so that'll come. I'm not worried about that."
Loomis re-affirmed Sean Payton's statements last week that team ownership is as strong as ever. "There's accountability. Absolutely. I answer and we answer to Mr. B and he entrusts the football people to make football decisions and I think that's worked out pretty well for us the last ten years. And are there mistakes? Absolutely, there are and we always own them. We're not shying away from a decision that I've made or we've made that didn't turn out. We also don't trumpet the ones that do work out either."
The Saints' next big date on the offseason calendar is a trip to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl during the last week of January.