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Look Back: A Lesson In Free Agency For Careless General Managers

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Posted 03-27-2016 at 08:02 PM by jeanpierre

Many of us here have been very critical, and rightfully so, in many of the free agency moves Loomis & Company have made in recent years...

Loomis has pretty much been bullet-proof after making perhaps the best free agency move in NFL history - Drew Brees as well as others that led to a Superbowl Championship in 2009 (e.g. Scott Fujita, Darren Sharper, Anthony Hargrove, Jabari Greer) and even some that didn't, but were still productive like in the case of Darren Sproles; Keenan Lewis signing initially looked very good, but the cornerback has stuggled to stay healthy the past two seasons and even when on an uncharacteristic Twitter rant for a Saint player, briefly exposing dirty laundry in public...

But since that early success there have been flat out failures - Jason David, David Patten, Eric Johnson, Kevin Kaesviharn, Olin Kreutz, Shaun Rogers, Aubrayo Franklin, John Gilmore, Turk McBride, John Kasay, Korey Hall, Curtis Lofton, Ben Grubbs, Brodrick Bunkley, David Hawthorne, Chris Chamberlain, Elbert Mack, Victor Butler, Jairus Byrd, C.J. Spiller, and the premature contract extension of one Junior Galette; in fact, Loomis has more than his share of failures but those early signings and a surprise 2006 draft class offset was has been some pretty poor choices in free agency...

And yet Loomis, bullet-proof in an aged owner's mind and his inner-sanctum of lawyer/accountants who want stability (i.e. no changes) so that everyone can continue to ride the wave on one singular championship that in some minds, demonstrates a failure to not have delivered at least three with the mind of Payton and his extension on the field in Brees...

Some argue, and perhaps rightfully so, that Loomis is just executing the orders and decisions of Coach Payton; if that is the case, then any 'yes man' could actually do Loomis' job functions and duties; but it is the successful general manager that takes his head coach to task and questions requested moves and even presents alternate theories and plans; usually head coaches that are autocratic in personnel moves eventually fail - e.g. Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, Mike Shanahan in Washington D.C. Even Bill Belichick has had quality football men around him to question and advise in the team moves in New England.

The one consistent Loomis seems to fail in the examination of proposed free agent candidates is in truly vetting the heart and mind of a player and how said candidate will fit in besides consult a blank rap sheet; in fact, Loomis has even failed to retain players who still had plenty in the tank and to offer the team as well has been high character and having importance in the locker room - e.g. Darren Sproles, Scott Fujita...

Which brings us to the recent moves, and pending moves, Loomis has made in the last three years; moves that have proved very costly and restrictive to the teams success like that of Jairus Byrd, Junior Galette, C.J. Spiller Ben Grubbs...

And in the case of some of these players, it would seem they like the fire and passion to contribute to making the Saints champions once again. And so, I looked back and found an article that reminds me of how not all NFL free agents are looking to win as well as get paid and so present a cautionary tale of what can happen when a General Manager fails, as Loomis has, to properly vet out a free agent candidate - the tale of Albert Haynesworth and the Washington Redskins; and how that signing crippled a franchise that has seemingly never recovered...

Chris Cooley: Albert Haynesworth was an 'awful human being' - CBSSports.com

Now the recent signing of James Laurinaitis has been encouraging from the standpoint that the 30 year old linebacker is a leader and has secured contact information of his new teammates from his coaches - something that only Keenan Lewis and Max Unger have done at the unit level among free agent signings the past few years. So there is hope. Now whether he still has enough physically to lead on the field will be discovered in the coming season. But Loomis had better look real close, and do his due diligence before bringing in a big defensive linemen who's impact could cause the fortunes of this franchise to turn around or continue the fall from grace.

Equally important, it is time Loomis man up and really study carefully a Brees extension carefully before committing the team down a path that limits our ability to retain or recruit future free agents and cowardly hiding behind a Brees decline that is almost certainly to happen with the player at age 37.

The difference in what the Saints have been and a dynasty, such as the 80's 49ers was that Bill Walsh and company were not afraid to make a move to secure a high level of play even at the most important position of the team rather than ride an old horse until it collapsed and then shrug it off to a fanbase as an excuse for not having made moves for continued success...

If not, we could be headed to joining the Redskins in the purgatory of mediocrity and subsequent salary cap hell...
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