By Casey Gisclair
There is no question that Mickey Loomis is the most successful General Manager in the history of the New Orleans Saints.
Under his watch, the team has risen from the bottom of the NFL and is now one of the more respected franchises in the league.
But in the past few years, the magic wand that Loomis once waved is now gone. The man who once saw everything he touched turn to gold is now fielding a Saints roster that is now mostly cooper and sterling silver.
Obviously, Loomis is not an old guy. At just 51, there’s no way that he’s past his prime or is in a position where the game has passed him by. There’s something else that’s in play here, and I know what it is.
Loomis’ downfall started in the 2012-13 season. Just a few months prior to that season, Tom Benson made Loomis an executive for the New Orleans Pelicans, and the double-duty so far has proven too much for Loomis to handle.
Since taking over with the Pelicans, almost everything the Saints have done from a front-office standpoint has backfired.
Need a Cliff’s Notes summary to refresh your memory? Here’s exactly what has went wrong.
Since Loomis began overseeing the Pelicans, the Saints ability to draft quality players has become smut. In the 2013 draft class, the Saints picked Kenny Vaccaro with the No. 15 overall pick. Vaccarro is still with the team, but is hardly what anyone would consider an impact player – or even a top-notch NFL safety. Vaccaro hasn’t moved the meter in any way for the organization, and for a No. 15 overall pick, it’s safe to say that the team could have done better – especially with Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid still on the board.
The gem of the 2013 draft class was tackle Terron Armstead, who looks like a quality NFL starter, but the rest of the five-player group is not good. That’s five picks, equating to one good player, one average player and three scrubs. Subpar to say the least.
In 2014, it was even worse.
The Saints draft class last year was possibly the worst in NFL history. The team traded up to get Brandin Cooks, who is a decent playmaker, but who is too small to ever be a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. The rest of the class was a dumpster-fire, led by the disastrous second-round pick of cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Cooks is the only member of the six-player draft class who is still on the New Orleans roster. That equates to a big, fat F in the grade book.
In 2015, New Orleans did OK in the draft, but it came at a big cost. Will any of the picks ever be as good as Jimmy Graham or Kenny Stills – the guys the Saints had to part ways with to get the picks? Maybe, maybe not. The jury is still out.
However, it’s not just the draft. Loomis hasn’t exactly been adept at managing the Saints’ salary cap, either.
It’s no secret that New Orleans is in salary cap purgatory. Just watch any NFL game on a given Sunday and it’s easy to spot a former Saint making big time plays.
Saints fans like to blame Drew Brees’ fat contract for the financial troubles, but it’s truly deeper than that. Instead of spending wisely on the open market, Loomis has continued to be a riverboat gambler – even with limited chips in his stack.
Signing Jairus Byrd to a six-year, $56 million contract was stupid. The Saints couldn’t afford Byrd even if he weren’t made of glass. But he is, and as it stands, the Saints pay him a bundle of $100 bills each week to play just a few games a season.
Re-signing Junior Galette was even stupider. Now that he’s released, he will be a burden on the team’s cap going forward – while playing for Washington.
Halfback C.J. Spiller’s deal isn’t much better. The Saints gave him a nice sum of money. He, too, is oft-injured, and the Saints don’t run the ball enough for his presence to be needed, anyway.
It’s ugly, and it’s only going to get uglier. The Saints will start the 2016 offseason over the cap again and will need to make even more cuts.
Loomis is responsible for that.
Since taking on doubly-duty, his work with the Black and Gold has been lacking in a big, big way.