Mickey Loomis says the goal for the Saints is to win now and compete for championships, and that is the right approach

The Saints have spent the last four years assembling one of the NFL’s best rosters.

They’ve drafted well, signed well, and retained the right players. They built a team so strong that it pieced together an 8-1 record with backup quarterbacks the last two seasons. Even when someone or something isn’t going well, rarely does the team get blown out because some other part of the team can step up.

Drew Brees, no Drew Brees or injured Drew Brees, New Orleans can keep winning games no matter the circumstances at quarterback. That luxury shouldn’t be forgotten when choosing a path on which to travel moving forward. And it doesn’t sound like it is lost on general manager Mickey Loomis.

“We have a great roster, and I can’t foresee a circumstance where we aren’t going to say, man, we’re going to do everything we can to win now and compete for a championship,” Loomis said. “But again, it’s difficult to really get into specifically what we need to do until we have more information.”

There are going to be tough choices for the team to make moving forward. Not everyone is going to be back. Some of the cuts and trades are going to hurt. That’s just the reality of being $90-100 million over the expected salary cap threshold. Nearly every team is going to feel it in some form or fashion.

But as previously discussed, this team can get under the cap without making too many drastic moves. They can keep most of the core together, remain good, and do all the things Loomis mentioned – especially if there is a good quarterback on the team. Even if the quarterback is only solid, this roster is good enough to help him win enough games to compete for a playoff spot.

That’s the point of drafting well and acquiring the right pieces to fill out the roster. New Orleans could choose to release a bunch of players, start over and try to get a fresh start. But to what end? Once the books clear out, you go on a shopping spree, overpay free agents, and hope you get the right mix of cheap talent and older talent?

The Saints can shed a little bit now, keep kicking the can, and mix in some new pieces with the old and keep things together. Why get bad on purpose when your roster is good enough to win?

This team still made the playoffs and won a playoff game while Brees was playing through injuries. He never quite looked all the way himself, despite offering glimmers of hope and throwing the ball well at times after coming back from injury. So, if the team had that much success with an injured starter and backups playing, why would this be the time to blow everything up? Wouldn’t last season’s success suggest that similar success is attainable if the team finds a solid quarterback and Michael Thomas comes back healthy?

Doesn’t seem that far off.

Is keeping this roster together going to be easy? No. Loomis spoke about being limited in what the Saints might be able to do to keep Trey Hendrickson around. He won’t be the only one. Marcus Williams is a free agent, and New Orleans needs to decide how to move forward with Marshon Lattimore. Ryan Ramczyk needs an extension. Some of those players are going to be gone, but not all of them.

And this isn’t just a 2021 problem. The Saints have to look at 2022 and what the implications of a stalled cap could mean then. The team can keep pushing and pushing, but this problem will remain complicated until the cap rises. If the cap stays at $180 million two years in a row, then you have a bigger problem because there might no longer be ways to push money forward.

“For sure it’s going to be challenging, and yet I don’t want to speculate as to how challenging it’s going to be until we have a better understanding of what’s going to be available, not just for this year, but even for the year after,” Loomis said. “So, I can’t really answer that question, other than to say, yeah, it’s going to be daunting. I think it’s going to be daunting for a majority of teams in our league.”

Assembling a good team is also daunting. Getting to this point is hard and drafting well isn’t easy. Hitting the lottery with the 2017 draft didn’t assure similar success during the following seasons. The Saints would almost certainly do some things differently. If there is a way to navigate this season without sacrificing core pieces next season, New Orleans has to consider that path strongly.

The window doesn’t have to close if Brees retires. The team just has to find a new way to keep it propped open.


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