Drew Brees 'excited' to move forward with revamped roster, including Brandin Cooks


AVONDALE, La. -- Although Drew Brees admitted to being "shocked" when the New Orleans Saints traded away his go-to tight end Jimmy Graham last month, he reiterated on Wednesday that he trusts coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis.

"I think at the end of the day, I trust, we trust, Sean, Mickey, all those involved in the decisions to make the decisions that are best for the team," Brees said before he and Payton teed off together with PGA Tour pro David Toms in the Zurich Classic pro-am at TPC Louisiana. "So you never question that. It's always, 'he guys that are in the locker room, those are the guys that we have and that's who we're moving forward with.'

"And I think we're poised to make a big play in this draft with the number of picks that we have and the amount of talent that's out there. And I think that's what we're looking forward to and excited about right now."

Although Brees said he didn't have any input or advanced warning of some of the Saints' offseason moves (they also traded away receiver Kenny Stills and guard Ben Grubbs and released running back Pierre Thomas and linebacker Curtis Lofton, among other moves), he said, "I don't think anything surprises me anymore. And I think you take the mindset of, ‘Worry about what you can control.'"

"And I was excited to get back here on Monday and see the guys in our locker room and get going again," Brees said of the start of New Orleans' offseason conditioning program, which kicked off with a full-team meeting on Monday.

Brees said he agreed with Payton and Loomis, who explained that they're confident the Saints can continue to field a top NFL offense with different pieces -- just as they've done throughout their previous nine years together, ranking first in the NFL in total yards five times.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," Brees said. "And you look at a lot of the players that have come through here, and man, they've played such significant roles when they've been here. … Take [Darren] Sproles, Sproles went on and will continue to have, I imagine, a great career in Philadelphia. And Jimmy will go on and have a great career in Seattle and whatever else happens. But the bottom line is, you look around our locker room and, 'What types of careers can we help these guys in our locker room have right now?' And I think we can have some pretty good ones. ...

"I'm excited for the opportunity a lot of these young guys have because when everyone wants to talk about the guys that depart, but how about the guys now that are given that opportunity. Those are the exciting ones. And we can point to many, many guys in the past due to other guys' departure, they became core players for us, they became faces of the franchise."

One of those guys is second-year receiver Brandin Cooks, who was really starting to hit his stride when he suffered a season-ending thumb injury in Week 10 last year. Of all the rookie receivers who burst into the scene in the NFL last year, Cooks was actually leading all rookie receivers with 53 receptions at the time of his injury. And the Saints were starting to consistently hit on some deep balls to the 5-10, 189-pound speedster.

Brees said he and Cooks have already spent some time training together this offseason in San Diego, where Brees calls home base when he's not in New Orleans.

"Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah," Brees said when asked if Cooks is one of the guys he's excited to watch develop. "Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, and then just his physical ability. I mean he's got all kinds of talent."