Mickey Loomis

Saints GM: Brees’ Playing Future Is Up To Him

Most believe that Saints quarterback and slam-dunk HOFer Drew Brees will retire at season’s end. New Orleans has prepared for just such a scenario, as it agreed to an extension with Taysom Hill this offseason to keep Hill under club control through 2021.

However, GM Mickey Loomis said in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio that no decisions have been made one way or another with respect to Brees’ future (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). Loomis added that, if Brees wants to return, the Saints will welcome him back.

“We give him his space, we give him time at the end of the season to determine that, and we’ll see what happens next year,” Loomis said. “I’m not counting him out. It’s going to be entirely up to him.”

If the Saints, who have dealt with heartbreaking playoff exits over the past couple of seasons, are able to capture the Lombardi Trophy this year, it would certainly be a surprise to see Brees come back. After all, he has already signed a deal with NBC Sports, and his transition to the broadcast booth is expected to be a seamless one. But if New Orleans should suffer another difficult defeat, perhaps the soon-to-be 42-year-old will try one last time for a second championship ring. Like Hill, he is under contract through 2021.

Brees has clearly lost some arm strength, but he continued to play at a high level in 2020, even though he and star wideout Michael Thomas were only on the field together in three games. Brees once again completed over 70% of his passes and threw for 24 TDs against just six interceptions en route to a 106.4 quarterback rating. He missed just four games despite suffering 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, and he will lead his troops against the Bears on Sunday afternoon, a matchup in which the Saints are heavily favored.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Saints

While previous reports have indicated the Buccaneers plan to retain Gerald McCoy, the veteran defensive tackle may actually not be safe, especially given head coach Bruce Arians‘ most recent comments to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago,” Arians said. “But he’s still pretty disruptive. He’s still a good player….I got to evaluate him. I mean, guys at a certain age, it’s different. Usually, the age they get paid the most and production (doesn’t) match. We’ve got to find that out.” McCoy, 31, ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits in 2018 and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s signed through 2021, but Tampa Bay won’t incur any dead money by releasing McCoy (and would save $13MM against the cap).

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers had interest in edge rusher Brandon Copeland before he re-signed with the Jets, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the NFL with 31 sacks a season ago, so the club can certainly use some extra help in getting pressure. However, the Bucs have already signed Shaquil Barrett to a one-year deal, so Copeland could have been viewed as redundant. Copeland. who also drew interest from New England, Washington, and Detroit, only landed one year and $1.25MM from New York, so Tampa Bay could have probably outbid Gang Green if it had serious interest.
  • Franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will be a “Falcon for life,” team owner Arthur Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Atlanta will control Jarrett through at least the 2019 campaign after franchising him, but that will come at a heavy cost: $15.209MM, a figure that makes Jarrett the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid interior defender. Jarrett, who has started 44 games over the past three years, will likely target an average annual value closer to Fletcher Cox‘s $17.1MM and a full guarantee package in excess of $50MM. Atlanta currently has less than $5MM in available cap space; an extension for Jarrett would lower his 2019 cap charge and increase the Falcons’ available funds.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will no longer be involved in running the NBA’s Pelicans, reports Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Loomis, who’s been the Saints’ GM since 2002, took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations in 2012. However, there was reportedly some concern within the Saints’ franchise that Loomis was being “spread too thin,” according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. The Pelicans are in the process of hiring a new GM, one who will report directly to Saints/Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
  • Nick Easton‘s four-year deal with the Saints is worth $22.5MM but contains only $4MM in guaranteed money, tweets Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, who adds Easton received a $2MM signing bonus. As Mike Triplett of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter), Easton’s deal is essentially a one-year deal with a series of options in 2020 ($5MM), 2021 ($6MM), and 2022 ($7.5MM).

NFC Notes: Redskins, Cowboys, Lions, Saints

Earlier this week, the Redskins promoted Matt Cavanaugh from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Despite Kirk Cousinsquestionable future with the team, the quarterback was happy that the organization valued continuity on the coaching staff.

“I love the fact that we’re not starting over,” Cousins said (via Jake Kring-Schreifels of Redskins.com). “We’ve learned a certain way of doing things for a couple of years now and with Coach Cav as the coordinator, we’ll be able to keep that rolling, as opposed to having to start all over with a brand new system and terminology and philosophy.”

Cavanaugh had served as the Redskins quarterbacks coach since 2015, and he played an important role in helping Cousins’ production over the past two seasons.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the NFC…

  • The Cowboys recently exercised the fifth-year option on offensive guard Zack Martin, but both sides are hoping the player’s tenure with the team lasts beyond 2017. Jon Machota of the Dallas News writes that the team is hoping to hammer out a long-term deal with the three-time Pro Bowler, and the 26-year-old echoed that sentiment. “It would be huge,” Martin said. “I’m not real worried about that. I’m worried about playing. Obviously I’ll be here for hopefully a long time. These guys make it fun to come to work every day…Hopefully we can get something done.”
  • The Lions need some talent on the defensive side of the ball, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes the team can acquire those types of players via free agency. The writer lists a number of impending free agents who could be intriguing fits for the Lions, including Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan, Rams cornerback T.J. McDonald, Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones, and Jaguars running back Denard Robinson.
  • Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker missed out on a $150K playing time bonus by only seven snaps, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The five-year veteran was required to play 35-percent of his team’s defensive snaps in order to earn the incentive, but he ended the season having played 34.4-percent of the defense’s snaps. Walker was a healthy scratch during his team’s Week 11 win over the Jaguars, and that decision surely cost the defensive tackle his bonus.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has a history of trading up in the draft, but the executive told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com that he doesn’t have a definitive process when it comes to their draft strategy. “I think it depends on how the board falls,” he said. “You just kind of have to pay attention to the players that are still available for you and what players are below them and how are you going to acquire those players.” The Saints traded up twice in last year’s draft to select second-round safety Vonn Bell and fourth-round defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Rams To Pursue Sean Payton Trade

Saints head coach Sean Payton reportedly has “sincere interest” in the Rams’ vacancy, and it appears the feeling is mutual. Los Angeles is likely to ask the Saints for their permission to speak with Payton during the upcoming week, reports Larry Holder of NOLA.com. Now, having just completed their third straight 7-9 season, the Saints would be open to trading Payton, a source told Holder.

Sean Payton

If Saints general manager Mickey Loomis does deal Payton, it’s doubtful he’d seek a significant return. The Tom Benson-owned franchise would instead be content with freeing up the $40MM remaining on Payton’s contract. New Orleans hasn’t gotten bang for its buck from Payton lately, as it has missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

Despite the Saints’ recent struggles, Payton’s tenure in the Big Easy has been a resounding success. The 53-year-old has led the team to a 94-65 record and five playoff berths in 10 seasons, and the crowning achievement during his run with the Saints is their Super Bowl victory to cap off the 2009 campaign. Of course, Payton also missed the 2012 season – in which New Orleans went 7-9 – after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for his role in the Bountygate scandal.

Going forward, Payton’s commitment to the Saints is clearly up in the air. The offensive guru refused to provide any useful answers Sunday to reporters who asked him about status, instead replying, “Next question.” He also met with Loomis after the Saints’ season-ending loss to the Falcons to discuss his future, according to Holder. It now seems that future could be in Los Angeles, which would represent a homecoming for the California native.

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Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints GM Talks Brees, Payton, Roster Depth

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis spoke today to reporters, including Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, about a number of issues related to the team, including the status of the head coach and quarterback. Let’s dive right in and round up several of the more notable quotes from the GM, via Woodbery….Mickey Loomis

On Drew Brees and how his $30MM cap number will affect the Saints:

“I know this: Drew’s going to be our quarterback. We’ll figure out how we’re going to handle the contract, whether it stays the same and just remains right in place, or whether we do something different. That’s all part of what we’ve got to figure out in the coming weeks.

On the team’s more general cap situation:

“I keep reading how we’re in dire straits with the cap and this, that and the other. It’s not a great cap situations, but it’s not as dire as sometimes I think it’s painted out to be. We know where we’re at, we know what we have to do.”

On the possibility that Sean Payton was going to leave the team this offseason:

“Here’s what I can tell you: I never had a discussion with another team. No one called me and I never called anyone else.

“[Payton’s] first statement when he walked in the room [for the end-of-season meeting] was, ‘Hey, I want to be here. I want to be coach for the Saints.’ It never really went beyond that. Then it was just a matter of how are we going to approach this season, what are the things we need to do, and let’s get going.”

On free agent signings or contract extensions that go south, and the Saints’ depth issues:

“Are there mistakes? Yeah, absolutely there are. We always own them. We’re not shying away from a decision that I’ve made or that we’ve made that didn’t turn out. We also don’t trumpet the ones that do work out, either. That’s up to you guys.

“You know what makes it hard to build depth? Having two draft picks taken away from you [for Bountygate]. That makes it hard. I’d say that’s more impactful than making a mistake on a contract.”

On how long and hard he considered the big Junior Galette extension in 2014:

“Not hard enough. I should have thought harder about that. That’s my mistake.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Sean Payton, Saints

The meeting between coach Sean Payton and Saints GM Mickey Loomis has concluded, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). It’s believed that the meeting went on for a long time because the two sides were discussing compensation at length. Payton’s status is still in limbo, Rapoport adds, it may not be decided tonight. Sean Payton (vertical)

[RELATED: Check out PFR’s 2016 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

It is no sure thing that Payton will leave the Saints, but if Loomis wants to keep Payton happy, the GM may need to “change certain things,” according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Payton, of course, led the Saints to a Super Bowl title and an 86-52 overall record, but their partnership could be coming to an end. Payton appears to be unhappy about at least a few things in New Orleans and he is a hot name in regards to other coaching vacancies around the NFL. If the Saints decide to part ways with Payton, they can probably pick up some significant compensation in a trade.

For his part, Payton is reportedly be interested in the Giants vacancy and clubs like the 49ers and the Eagles have interest. He has been connected to the Dolphins for a long time but that reportedly will not be his landing spot if he parts ways with New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis To Meet Monday

Citing Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Katherine Terrell of the Times-Picayune writes that Saints head coach Sean Payton is set to meet with GM Mickey Loomis tomorrow to discuss Payton’s future with the club. Rumors as to whether 2015 could be Payton’s last season in New Orleans have been gaining traction in recent weeks, and Glazer’s report will only add to that speculation. Glazer adds that it is no sure thing that Payton will leave the Saints, but if Loomis wants to keep Payton happy, the GM may need to “change certain things,” though Glazer does not indicate what those changes might entail.

Meanwhile, Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune, citing ESPN’s Adam Schefter, tweets that if the Saints can work out compensation details with another NFL club, Payton could be on his way out of New Orleans. That report in and of itself is not news, of course, but given that it was made at the same time Payton’s impending meeting with Loomis was reported, it is very easy to connect the dots and to predict that the Saints will try to trade the head coach that led them to a Super Bowl title and an 86-52 overall record. We detailed the logistics of such a trade back in November, though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Fritz Pollard Alliance will take it up with the league if a team trades for a head coach without what the Alliance believes is a fair interview process for minority candidates.

Given the demand for Payton’s services, it is difficult to guess as to where he might land if he is traded, or what type of compensation the Saints might receive in return. However, Rapoport tweets that Payton would be interested in the 49ers’ job–assuming it become available–and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that Payton would also have interest in the impending Giants opening, though it is unclear whether Big Blue would consider trading for a head coach.

 

 

Extra Points: Jets, Saints, Pats, Bucs

The playoff-contending Jets (8-5) are one of the surprises of the NFL this year after finishing the 2014 campaign 4-12 and undergoing major offseason changes. As ESPN’s John Clayton writes, plenty of credit goes to first-year general manager Mike Maccagnan. The former Texans executive was at the helm of a makeover last winter and spring that saw the Jets bring in rookie head coach Todd Bowles, spend over $179MM on free agents (Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist and James Carpenter being the most expensive additions), and acquire two key offensive cogs – quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and receiver Brandon Marshall – for a mere late-round pick apiece.

While Maccagnan’s methods have paid off this season, the organization is cognizant that it has plenty of long-term work to do, per Clayton. The Jets have 10 starters in their 30s, so they need to stockpile youth. In terms of finding a young, high-impact player, Maccagnan’s draft history with the Jets got off to an excellent start last spring with his inaugural selection, first-round defensive end Leonard Williams.

As far as the upcoming offseason goes, Clayton expects the Jets to give raises to Fitzpatrick and running back Chris Ivory, slap the franchise tag on D-line stalwart Muhammad Wilkerson, and free up cap space by releasing Cromartie.

Elsewhere around the league…

  • As long as either Tom Benson or his wife is in charge of the Saints, Mickey Loomis is likely to remain the team’s general manager, according to Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com. Head coach Sean Payton is under contract for two more years, but his status going forward is less clear than Loomis’. Payton could look for another job in the offseason, and Woodbery doesn’t expect Loomis to stand in Payton’s way if he wants to seek work someplace else. However, Woodbery does believe the Loomis-led Saints would require significant compensation from any hypothetical team that tries to hire Payton.
  • The stellar play of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler means he’ll cash in eventually, and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald took a look at how much the 25-year-old could make in the coming seasons. Howe thinks the Pats will give Butler a first-round tender as a restricted free agent after next season, which would cost just under $4MM. Then, as Butler pushes closer to unrestricted free agency in 2018, he could end up with a four-year deal in the $36MM range. He might not get that money in New England, though, as the club has decisions to make on a slew of important players other than Butler in the coming offseasons and won’t be able to retain all of them.
  • The Buccaneers have drafted a combined one defensive player over the last two years (fourth-round linebacker Kwon Alexander last spring), but that should change in 2016, opines Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Tribune. Stroud looks for the Bucs to upgrade at cornerback and add outside pass-rushing help to a defense that ranks 28th in quarterback rating against (100.5) and has forced just one turnover over Tampa’s last four games.

NFC Notes: JPP, Eagles, Saints

Giants coach Tom Coughlin revealed Saturday that he got in touch with injured defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and the two had a “good conversation.” Co-owner Steve Tisch hasn’t been able to get in contact with Pierre-Paul, however, and is irked that the 26-year-old hasn’t responded to his overtures.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Tisch told the team’s website, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I’ve reached out to Jason. I’ve not heard back from Jason. I’m not going to hold that against him. I understand his situation is difficult, complicated, and I’m sure very confusing to him personally.’’

Pierre-Paul, who led the Giants with 12.5 sacks last year, injured his hand in a fireworks accident in July and still hasn’t signed his $14.8MM franchise tender for 2015.

“My message to him is get better, we cheer for you,” said Tisch. “[Senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] and our doctors have access to the best doctors, if not in New York City and the country, possibly in the world. He should take advantage of that.

“Let us see you sooner than later. You’re not going to be judged, you’re going to be helped.”

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Eagles cornerback JaCorey Shepherd hurt his right knee Sunday and there’s concern it could be an ACL injury, reports Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Shepherd, a sixth-round rookie who has been getting first-team nickel corner reps during training camp, will have an MRI on Monday.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team focused on adding talent and, more importantly, leadership during the offseason. He noted that the defense was especially lacking in leadership. The defense lost talent but arguably improved in the leadership department last month when it released pass-rushing linebacker Junior Galette, whose on-field success (22 sacks from 2013-14) was overshadowed by poor behavior off the field.
  • In other Saints news, offensive lineman Andrus Peat, the 13th pick in this year’s draft, has impressed head coach Sean Payton with his ability to play both tackle and guard. “I do see him as a tackle and yet he’s athletic enough to play inside,” said Payton, Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com tweeted. “We’ll keep moving him around,” Payton added (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Brees, Saints, Bucs, Collins

Saints GM Mickey Loomis says he may take a quarterback in this year’s draft, but he doesn’t see the end of the line for Drew Brees anytime soon either, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett writes. “That’s a good question,” Loomis said. “I think you’re always looking to get a young quarterback in the program. We’ve got one in Ryan Griffin that we like. And if an opportunity presents itself, hey, we may take another one here. But I don’t see the end for Drew Brees on the short-term horizon. At least I certainly hope not. But it does take time for these quarterbacks to develop. And we’re conscious of that. We evaluate the quarterbacks. And obviously if an opportunity presents itself to take one at the right time, we’re not afraid to do that.” More on that and other news from the NFL..

  • If the Saints draft Bryce Petty, it’ll be a clear indication that Jeff Ireland is already calling the shots there, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Ed Werder of ESPN (via Rob Demovsky on Twitter) says the Buccaneers may be looking to move up into the bottom of the first round. The Bucs currently pick at No. 34 and Demovsky wonders if the Packers at No. 30 could be a match.
  • Multiple teams have removed LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins from their draft boards, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Bills GM Doug Whaley called Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith a “perfect fit” for the type of scheme they run, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW tweets.
  • Army running back Raymond Maples has been granted administrative leave to attend team activities if he’s drafted or signed, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • With so few quality safeties available, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that James Sample (Louisville) and Damarious Randall (ASU) will go higher than most people think.