Last offseason I made a mistake that I later promised I would never make again. It was in the heat of Marques Colston, Carl Nicks and Drew Brees approaching a free agency hit, which forced the Saints to franchise tag their star quarterback. At the time I accused Loomis of mismanaging the offseason, and my personal favorite quote from that time coming from yours truly was the following:
Mickey Loomis, pure and simple, has failed to do his job the smart way
This was just before I summarized Loomis' effort for the 2012 offseason with the catchy and trendy term "epic fail". I've since acknowledged the error of my ways because he ultimately got the Brees deal done (granted way too close to the deadline for my liking) and he locked up Colston just before free agency hit (again too close to the deadline). The Saints did lose Carl Nicks, but I think we all realistically knew it was going to be almost impossible to keep all three. And the Saints for the record did make a nice run at Carl Nicks but there was no way they were going to be able to compete with the money that Tampa gave him. Not only that, but the Saints brought in a slew of free agents with Ben Grubbs, Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Brodrick Bunkley, all four of who at the time I viewed as fantastic signings. So far two of those have worked out well, and the jury is still out on the latter two. But at the time we all viewed those pickups as very positive.
But that was then and this is now. Loomis won't be lauded for bringing in a game changing free agent class this year because, let's be honest, Keenan Lewis, Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Ben Watson, Jim Leonhard, Seneca Wallace, Luke McCown and Jason Smith isn't exactly the type of recruitment that is going to make most teams gushing with jealousy. I don't hate this free agency class, mind you, it's about as good as it could have been given what the Saints had to work with and I am still genuinely hopeful for some real positive surprises. Honestly, if Lewis pans out and Watson sprinkles in some firepower to the offense that would almost make it satisfactory. Give Butler 8 sacks on top and I'd be ecstatic. But this brings me to my main point. This offseason shouldn't be remembered for the guys the Saints brought in, even if a couple of them end up Pro Bowlers (unlikely). This should be remembered as the offseason where the Saints went into it in excess of $20 million over the salary cap, lost no one under contract of importance, and somehow managed to sign all these guys while getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million UNDER the cap. So they basically saved $25 million in cap money by signing all those players and cutting no one. Let that sink in for a second, I give you the magic of Mickey Loomis. Once again, may I remind you that we learn from the mistake I made a year ago in doubting Mickey Loomis: we should never do it. Always trust in Mickey Loomis. I made that mistake last year and I didn't make it again this year, and he proved me right.
The latest guy to restructure his deal Roman Harper, and the moved saved the Saints ~$3.5 million in cap room. This comes after Lofton, Hawthorne, Bunkley, Vilma, Will Smith, Grubbs, and Colston (I'm sure I'm missing someone) also tweaked their deals to help get the Saints under that cap situation. I'm glad Harper of all people got his deal re-worked because frankly that contract was just absurd and he was making way more than an underperforming veteran safety that can't cover should be making. Kudos to the players for playing ball, especially Smith and Vilma who took straight up huge pay cuts (Harper too to an extent), but more importantly kudos to Loomis for making this happen, keeping everyone, and convincing them this was a good idea. Criticize these players all you want for playing poorly last year, at a reasonable contract you should absolutely still want them on the roster if nothing else than for competition. They will push the talent on the roster because you better believe they are not going to hand over their starting spots without a fight, regardless of their fading talent level. Competition brings out the best in everyone.
And this Harper deal, by the way, definitely makes me think the Saints will be making a splash very soon. They were about $2 million under the cap, so this should put them at about $5.5 million under the cap. Further, the roster currently stands at 89 which is 1 under the league allowed maximum of 90 after the Saints just waived Greg Romeus. Could Mickey Loomis be getting ready to add another tasty veteran to the 2013 free agency class? Signs certainly point that way. There he goes, quietly kicking ass yet again. John Abraham is still a free agent… just throwing that out there.
Sorry I ever doubted you, Mickey. It won't happen again. Carry on…