Should the Saints Trust Loomis?
It’s been nearly two years since New Orleans was above .500
For many Saints fans, the continued joy of winning Super Bowl XVIV has eclipsed the team’s current problems and shrouded the truth.
New Orleans doesn’t have the talent on its roster to compete for another NFL title.
That falls on one man, general manager Mickey Loomis.
December 29, 2013, was the last time the Saints were above .500 in the regular season. They finished 11-5 that year, winning their first road playoff game in franchise history against Philadelphia before losing to Seattle in the divisional round. They’ve been anything but a winning team since.
Loomis oversaw the building of the championship roster in the years leading up to 2009. In an attempt to win another Super Bowl, the team loaded the roster with high-paying contracts that maxed out toward the end of the deals.
Had his plan worked, he’d be considered a genius. Unfortunately, the Saints didn’t win and the amount owed contractually has ballooned the past two seasons putting the team in an economic bind and mediocrity.
According to overthecap.com, a website devoted to tracking NFL contract information, this year the Saints have nearly $33.47 million – nearly a quarter of the NFL allotted salary cap – in dead money going to 59 players who aren’t on the team anymore. That means, at best, they had $109.81 million, just 76 percent of the mandated cap $143.28 million, to spend on building this year’s team. That means for every dollar a team without a salary cap issue could spend, the Saints could spend just 75 cents.
When quarterback Drew Brees’ $23.8 million salary – 21 percent of the team’s already reduced cap – is taken into account, the Saints have $87.65 million available, 48 percent of their total budget, to spend on the rest of the team. That doesn’t leave much to flesh out the remaining roster of 50-plus players. As result, salary has been cut. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t been able to replace lost talent with cheaper replacements.
The Saints fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan less than two weeks ago and are trying to figure out how to right the ship on a 2015 season that’s going nowhere quick. Last Sunday, the Saints limped into Houston after a bye week and managed to score two field goals in a 24-6 loss. It was the first time since Christmas Eve 2005 that the team hadn’t scored a touchdown in a game. Under new DC Dennis Allen, the Saints made undrafted journeyman Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer look like a Pro Bowler – 21 of 27 passes completed for 205 yards, two TDs and a 107.6 rating.
Handed their third defeat in a row, the Saints dropped to 4-7. With five games left to play, including Sunday’s match-up with division rival Carolina, the only undefeated team in the NFL, a winning season seems unlikely.
The Saints weren’t expected to be a good team this year, but many thought they would compete. They haven’t. At times, it’s looked like they’ve completely given up. That’s embarrassing to themselves and the fans paying to support them.
In his time in New Orleans, Loomis was instrumental in the team earning their first Super Bowl championship. That won’t be forgotten. But too many mistakes have piled up since. Only 31 percent (19/61) of the team’s draft picks since 2006 are still with the club. Just 36 percent (19/53) of players on the Saints current active roster were drafted by the team.
For the past two seasons, the team has gone through a major change. Although no one wants to admit it, the Saints are rebuilding (if you want to call it that); and austerity measures appear as if they will continue for the Saints after this year. That means a greater mix of unfamiliar journeyman players and undrafted free agents joining new draft picks and the dwindling number of recognizable players on the roster.
Because of his championship and standing in the community, head coach Sean Payton’s job is likely not in jeopardy. But it may be time for team owner Tom Benson, team president Dennis Lauscha, or whoever is calling the shots at 5800 Airline Drive to consider a new general manager to direct this team. Success has raised expectations in New Orleans, and Saints fans don’t want to return to from where they’ve come.
Saints Regular Season Win Total 2011-15