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Q&A with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has kept his thoughts about the team's turbulent 2012 season almost completely away from the public, until now. Loomis sat down Wednesday morning with a small group of reporters to discuss a variety ...

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Old 01-09-2013, 06:22 PM   #1
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New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has kept his thoughts about the team's turbulent 2012 season almost completely away from the public, until now.

Loomis sat down Wednesday morning with a small group of reporters to discuss a variety of issues including the bounty scandal, the effects of the loss of suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton and the excitement surrounding Payton's return, the Payton contract issues, the historically poor defense, and the salary-cap squeeze.

Some questions Loomis had no problem diving into, while other issues Loomis had no problem not touching at all. Here are the vast majority of the questions posed to Loomis on Wednesday:

Q: Have you crossed the point where you have decided to keep all of your assistant coaches that are currently on staff?

Loomis: "Look, ultimately that's Sean's decision. I've always given him the opportunity to determine the makeup of his staff. I can't answer that."

Q: How much does Payton not being here hinder making (coaching) moves?

Loomis: "Clearly, it does."

Q: Do you expect Payton's reinstatement to happen soon or have you talked to the league about it or has he talked to the league about it?

Loomis: "I don't know what to expect. It's not in our hands."

Q: Do you know if he's re-applied?

Loomis: "Don't know."


New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis on the 2012 season: "This is a little bit like getting sucker-punched."

Q: Is it odd to you that the league has said Payton's reinstatement date has been undetermined even though the league said Payton could return after the 2012 NFL season is over?

Loomis: "No. I think they've made it clear on a couple of occasions of their date when they said that their date is the day after the Super Bowl (Feb. 4). So I think that's no different than Joe (Vitt) when it's after the game in Tampa and me when it was after the Monday night game (vs. Philadelphia)."

Q: So you figure Sean can be back at the Saints facility on 12:01 a.m. the day after the Super Bowl, just walk in and get back to work?

Loomis: "I don't know what to expect."

Q: Is Payton's contract all done with the league?

Loomis: "We've agreed (Payton and the Saints)."

Q: Is there a timeline as to when the league will get back to you on the approval of Payton's contract?

Loomis: "We've got to send it (the contract) into them first, which hasn't been done yet. We've got some 'Ts' to cross and 'Is' to dot."

Q: Can the assistant coaches whose contracts have run out, can you make them an offer to stay or are you waiting for Payton?

Loomis: "Well, we certainly can. They've been offered (contracts)."

(Loomis wouldn't say which assistant coaches' contracts have expired, although offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer are two deals that have reportedly expired.)

Q: Other than Pete (Carmichael) with the Bears, has any other coach been given permission to talk to any other teams?

Loomis: "No. That's the only one that's requested and been granted permission."

Q: Have any of the coaches re-signed with the team?

Loomis: "So you're just trying to angle around to figure it out. Yeah, the majority of our coaches are under contract for next year. There's a few that aren't. ... The composition of the staff is largely Sean's decision." (Loomis said later on in the interview that he expects all coaches who aren't under contract to return to the Saints next season. "I'd be surprised if they went someplace else, but they have the right," Loomis said. Loomis also said the team hasn't interviewed any coach from another team for an assistant role.)

Q: What are your thoughts on Steve Spagnuolo?

Loomis: "I'm not going to get into evaluating anyone specifically. It's a fair question, but I'm just not going to do that, publicly."

Q: You obviously don't want to have a quick trigger finger with having made a significant change on defense and it would take time. From a philosophy standpoint, is it hard to be patient?

Loomis: "Again, I don't want to get into this area. I know where you're going with it and they're good questions. But let's let some time go by before we reflect on things like that. Look, Steve's a good coach and he's a proven coach in the NFL, as are all of our assistant coaches. We didn't have any rookie coaches on our staff. We've got good coaches. When you don't do well, whether it's record, special teams, defense, offense, you know everyone has a hand in that. I have a hand in that. Our players have a hand in that. The coaches have a hand in that. So we've got to jointly come up with solutions. There's no one person that's responsible for anything that happens here. We're all responsible for it."

Q: What about your thoughts on the defense in general?

Loomis: "Well, it wasn't very good."

Q: Do you think you need to consider significant changes or do you think you liked the progress you saw and you don't want to blow the thing up?

Loomis: "I don't want to comment on that right now. It's too early. We're still evaluating."

Q: In 2007 and 2008, you said it (your record) wasn't good enough. Sean said it wasn't good enough. Joe said it last week that (the record) wasn't acceptable. Your thoughts?

Loomis: "Look, we've got a higher standard than we've ever had before. We had expectations coming into the season. Really, despite the adversity that we had in the off-season, despite Sean not being here, our expectations were a lot higher. And for good reason. We've got good players, we've got good coaches, we've got a good environment. I think it was beyond disappointing to be 7-9 and not playing for more at the end of the season. Look, you can go back to certain games and hey, one play here or one play there. That may be true, but look, we didn't get it done. And we've been able to make those plays in the past. So that's disappointing. That doesn't mean we change everything here. We don't need a culture change. We don't need to retool the organization. We do need to look at ourselves with a critical eye, and say, 'OK, what do we need to do to get better? Where do we need to get better? What do we need to do to fix what happened this season?' We can't just say it's all about Sean not being here or about the bounty or the other things that happened during the course of the season. You can't say that. We've got to look at ourselves with a critical eye."

Q: Similar to '07 or '08 where you knew you were close and you had to look at it and make some changes?

Loomis: "I think it's different because in the sense that '07 and '08, we had a great season in '06, an unexpected great season I think for most of us, and we felt like we were going in the right direction. ... Then you go 7-9 and 8-8 and there was a bunch of games in those years that, man, (that's why) 'finish' became the theme in '09. Because in '08, there were four or five games that we had right in our grasps and we let it slip out. It was a different feel to it because we didn't have the history of success we've had recently. This is kind of like getting sucker-punched as opposed to hey, we're building something and we took a little step back. This is a little bit like getting sucker-punched. Hey, we've got to take a look at ourselves and say, 'How did we miss that?'"

Q: Considering the league backed off of what they said (and penalized) about the players with the bounty and still came after the organization really hard, what are your thoughts on what they said (about the organization) considering the vacated penalties?

Loomis: "I'm not going to comment on that. I'd love to, but I'm not going to."

Q: Obviously it had an affect on this team?

Loomis: "Yeah."

Q: How much? Can you quantify?

Loomis: "I don't know. Here's the question more than anything else: how many games would we have won if Sean were here? Who can answer that? I can't. We all think, and you guys think, we could have won three or four, right? That would have put us in the playoffs, right? We wouldn't feel sucker-punched. But none of us know that. We don't know that. It's like Joe (Vitt) says, 'What the 'F,' you know?' What did he say? If my aunt had a beard (it would be his uncle). You guys are going to miss those quotes. The answer to your question is that there's no question that it had some affect on us. Did it ultimately change our record? No one knows."

Q: I'm assuming you guys are going to work with the NFL and work with Roger Goodell when the Super Bowl comes. How much of a challenge is that going to be?

Loomis: "Listen, there's nothing I have to do. There's nothing that our coaching staff, players (have to do). That's true for any Super Bowl. That's other people in the building - marketing, the business side, Super Bowl committee members. So we don't have anything to do with that."

Q: Are you afraid the Saints will have this bounty stigma for a while?

Loomis: "I'm not afraid of anything. No, no."

Q: The lost second-round pick (as part of the bounty penalties), do you go into the draft process expecting not to have it?

Loomis: "I don't have any expectations."

Q: Considering what happened with the players (bounty penalties) as it was reduced and vacated, does the organization have any thoughts on pursuing (retribution from the league) elsewhere? You can't take back the game lost, but was there anything you'd want to pursue against the league?

Loomis: "Yeah, I don't want to go there."

Q: Considering your role with the Hornets, could you work in the Saints facility?

Loomis: "No. I couldn't have contact with the club. (Loomis said he could have limited contact with a few people who served dual roles with the Saints and the Hornets). I had an office down in Benson Tower."

(Loomis also said Saints owner Tom Benson had permission to talk with Payton, but didn't know the restrictions. Benson said the day the new Payton contract news broke that he talked with Payton numerous times.)

Q: The perception of Payton's contract of the clause (involving Loomis' employment with the Saints) that if you could change that, then a new contract would be all set. How much went into that because I'm assuming more went into the contract issue than that?

Loomis: "I'll answer that once the contract is signed and approved, because there are some factors there."

Q: With salary cap issues, comparable to other seasons, how challenging is this going to be to navigate than in other seasons?

Loomis: "Well, it's not a mess. ... It's tight, though. Let's not kid ourselves. It's tight, and we've got some work to do, but it's things that we could navigate through. We've navigated them before, not just here but when I was with the Seahawks. We have years when we have tight caps. And look, these caps, they run in cycles where you're right up against it and then you're not, particularly when you have a good team. So we're on the cycle where we're going to be up against it. We're not up against it, we're over it pretty significantly. So we've got some work to do."

(Loomis wouldn't give a specific figure as to how far over the salary cap the Saints stand right now. But $16 million over the salary cap wouldn't be far off, Loomis said.)

Q: Do you anticipate maybe having to make cuts because of where you stand salary cap-wise?

Loomis: "Look, that's the process we're going through right now as we're going through the process of evaluating our team."

Q: Last year you restructured numerous contracts and there are plenty of contracts that will jump significantly in 2013. How big is that a concern?

Loomis: "Again, that's what gets us to our over. But that's not unusual. If you look around the league, most contracts are structured where you have a low cap, a low cap and then boom, it bounces up. ... That's all pre-planned. We're not just looking at 2013. Where does this put us for '14, '15, '16? ... There's nothing unexpected here."

Q: You've given an extension to Marques Colston, for example, before his rookie contract was up. Jimmy Graham just finished his third season and has probably outplayed his deal. Do you anticipate Graham's agent coming to you for a new deal considering Rob Gronkowski's new contract?

Loomis: "Do I anticipate that? I don't know what to anticipate. Certainly, we want to have Jimmy Graham in a New Orleans Saints uniform for as long as we can. So I'll leave it at that.

Q: Would a new Graham deal be viable to do right now?

Loomis: "Sure. There's lots of things we can do. It just depends on the magnitude of the deal. That would be a difficult; well I don't know if difficult is the right word. Who knows? I've never had an easy negotiation. Jimmy is obviously a great player and he will be rewarded at some point."

Q: Will Graham need to have surgery on his wrist?

Loomis: "We'll come out with that information soon, but not yet though."

(Loomis was asked about the investigation being conducted by Louis Freeh into the wiretapping allegations ESPN levied upon him, but he didn't want to comment on any aspect of the investigation.)

Q: As far as for something like the Senior Bowl and scouting, is everything going to be the same as normal?

Loomis: "Here's what I would tell you guys, we need to get back to football, right? Let's just get back to football with our normal off-season calendar, our normal process. We need to put this stuff behind us. I look forward to not talking about it or thinking about it."

Q: The salary cap figures specifically are big for Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. Is there a different sense with these two players because of the loyalty from them in the bounty scandal? Or would it be pure football or money? Is there an emotional attachment there?

Loomis: "I think there's definitely an emotional attachment to the guys who have been here through some rougher times and some good times and won a Super Bowl. I think that's natural. We have a great affinity for all of our players, but for both of those guys. Will Smith, how long has he been here? And Jonathan has been an important acquisition for us. He's meant to the defense what Drew (Brees) has meant for the offense. So there's an affinity for those guys and I think they're still good players. The answer to that is yes, but it's not because of the bounty thing. It's because of what they've done for us as players on our own team."

Q: I guess it works both ways, right?

Loomis: "Look, they do. Those guys like being here. I know they do. That goes both ways."

Q: It sounds like there's a lot of optimism with Sean's return that you feel like the incumbent people will remain. What's your sense?

Loomis: "I'm optimistic. Heck yes. We've got a good team here. We've got a great culture and a great locker room. We've got guys that are accountable. We've got guys that are disappointed, frustrated and angry about the season that we just had. And that's a good sign. There are guys that care and guys that are determined to do better next year. I'm talking players, coaches, staff, ownership. We're not sweeping this under the rug. We're not just saying, 'Oh, because of the controversy from last season.'"

Q: Have any personnel members of your staff been approached by other teams with the numerous general manager openings?

Loomis: "No."

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Old 01-09-2013, 07:12 PM   #2
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Re: Q&A with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis

One of my favorite quotes is "it's a little bit like getting sucker punched." Spot on big guy.
On retribution against the NFL he said "I don't want to go there." Even though you know he does want to go there.

On what he thought about the league backing off on the players but not the organization he said "I'm not going to comment on that. I'd love to but I'm not going to."
It's obvious there's a little fear of the league. Godhell is nothing but a spoiled little rich brat that loves to bully and push people around.


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Old 01-09-2013, 07:28 PM   #3
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Re: Q&A with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis

Q: Are you afraid the Saints will have this bounty stigma for a while?

Loomis: "I'm not afraid of anything."
I would be lying if I said that I don't care how anyone views the Saints organization. The Saints are not the Raiders nor are their fans. The NFL would like everyone else to believe otherwise.

But I do love Loomis' response.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:40 PM   #4
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Re: Q&A with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis

Q: What are your thoughts on Steve Spagnuolo?

Loomis: "I'm not going to get into evaluating anyone specifically. It's a fair question, but I'm just not going to do that, publicly."
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:31 AM   #5
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Re: Q&A with New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis

Originally Posted by Rugby Saint II View Post
One of my favorite quotes is "it's a little bit like getting sucker punched." Spot on big guy.
On retribution against the NFL he said "I don't want to go there." Even though you know he does want to go there.

On what he thought about the league backing off on the players but not the organization he said "I'm not going to comment on that. I'd love to but I'm not going to."
It's obvious there's a little fear of the league. Godhell is nothing but a spoiled little rich brat that loves to bully and push people around.
I don't think its a fear of the leauge. Rather its one of the best ways of hitting back. Saying "I'm not going to comment on that. I'd love to but I'm not going to." is so very telling. He lets everybody read whatever they want into it and still gets his message across.
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