Saints GM: Deal must benefit all
"I feel for him. I feel with him. He wants to be here right now. I want him to be here right now and we'll work hard to get that accomplished," Loomis said Friday while attending an event at the Saints' Hall of Fame. "It's important to Drew, but it's important to our team. The magnitude of this contract is going to impact our team for a long period of time, so we've got to get it right. It's got to be right for Drew, but it's got to be right for our team as well."
Loomis, as he typically does when talking about contracts, declined to go into specifics about the sticking points holding up the deal or even to offer a range of financial figures being discussed.
Loomis went to the team's Hall of Fame for the announcement of the 2012 inductees, former running back Deuce McAllister and longtime team owner Tom Benson. Benson said Brees would be in uniform for the Saints this season, but added that the record-setting quarterback and Loomis have to work out some details first.
"There's money involved, you know, and two people have some difference of opinion, but it's going to be worked out," Benson said. "I assure you that Drew Brees will be playing here, OK?"
Brees said earlier this week that he is frustrated by the lack of communication and lack of urgency to get a deal done.
Loomis says he understands Brees' frustration and respects his desire to rejoin his teammates.
"I feel like we have a great relationship and these things sometimes can strain that," Loomis said. "Drew's passionate about being with the Saints and I respect that a lot. I know that he wants to be here and he's frustrated that he's not with the team, and look, I respect that and respect him a lot for that. If he didn't care, he wouldn't say a word, right?
"These contracts are personal issues for players. I recognize that," Loomis continued. "I don't have any hard feelings or anything about it. Drew wants to get signed and I respect that."
This whole team, the community, the fans, everybody misses Drew, but we also realize right now we have to move on without him. Is a deal going to get done? Yes, I have faith. But right now it's a great opportunity for myself to go in, show the type of skills I've [gained] ... and really earn the trust of the guys.” -- Saints QB Chase Daniel
The Saints have placed an exclusive franchise tag on Brees, virtually locking him into New Orleans for this season. However, Brees has said he wants a long-term deal with more security and so far has decided to stay away from team headquarters for voluntary offseason workouts. The Saints begin offseason practices known as organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday, and Brees has said he would miss those, as well as minicamp and possibly training camp if the two sides fail to come to terms.
Loomis did not offer any hints about how much work remains to be done on the contract or how far apart the two sides are.
"We're not done yet. That's how I would characterize it," Loomis said. "Negotiations are hard sometimes. ... It's a common part of our business."
"Look, we love Drew Brees, every fan of the New Orleans Saints loves Drew Brees. So do I," Loomis continued. "No one wants to get him signed more than I do. ... But we also want to have the best team we can have on the field. ... We've just got to get it right."
With Brees staying away from Saints headquarters during negotiations, Chase Daniel has been penciled in to take first-team snaps when New Orleans begins its first organized team activities on Tuesday.
Daniel's eagerness is undeniable, but he remains mindful of the big picture in New Orleans, and his place in it.
"First and foremost, we miss Drew. This whole team, the community, the fans, everybody misses Drew, but we also realize right now we have to move on without him," Daniel said. "Is a deal going to get done? Yes, I have faith. But right now, it's a great opportunity for myself to go in, show the type of skills I've [gained] ... and really earn the trust of the guys."
"I'm looking forward to it," Daniel continued. "Obviously, Drew runs the ship. I'm just here to get ready."
The 6-foot, 225-pound Daniel, who'll turn 26 on Oct. 7, was plucked off waivers by Saints coach Sean Payton at the end of 2009 training camp, which Daniel, then a rookie, had spent with the Washington Redskins.
Daniel never played his rookie year, when he was the Saints' third quarterback behind Mark Brunell and spent most of the season on the practice squad. He moved into the second-string spot in 2010, and also has been the holder on field goals. He has completed six of eight passes for 45 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in his career.
All the while, he has watched and learned from Brees, seeking to match his intensity at practice while mirroring his work ethic and preparation. Apparently, even some of Brees' mannerisms have rubbed off.
"It's funny when you kind of listen to him and you're like, 'Is this Drew or is this Chase?' " Saints veteran receiver Lance Moore said. "There's a lot of things that are similar. You kind of listen to him and the way he runs the drills and stuff like that and gets guys organized on the field. You can tell he's been paying close attention to what Drew's been doing."
Despite Daniel's relative lack of regular-season action, he has seen his share of preseason snaps the past two seasons and his teammates are well aware that, like Brees, Daniel was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Daniel went 30-11 at Missouri, where he was the first QB to throw for 3,000 or more yards in three consecutive seasons, twice surpassing the 4,300-yard mark and setting school records in the process.
"He hasn't played more [NFL] ball than a lot of the guys that are out there, but he definitely commands guys' attention and he's got confidence out there, so it's easy to go out there and play with him," Moore said. "He's not a slouch. He wouldn't be here if he was a slouch."
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said next week's OTAs won't be run any differently than they would if Brees were present. The offense will work on the same volume of plays.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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