METAIRIE, La. (AP) New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said he will retain all of his usual duties with the football team in 2016 and that Drew Brees will be back next season whether the star quarterback's contract changes or not.
Loomis, who held an informal gathering with reporters on Thursday, says there's a misperception that his oversight role with the New Orleans' NBA team, the Pelicans, is more extensive than it really is and has spread him too thin. He said Pelicans general manager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry handle virtually all day-to-day operations with the basketball team, which has so far struggled to a 12-26 record so far this season.
Meanwhile, the Saints have been 7-9 and missed the playoffs in two of the three seasons since Saints owner Tom Benson added New Orleans' NBA franchise to his sports empire.
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''I'm fully engaged in the Saints and getting us to the next level,'' Loomis said. ''My role with the Pelicans is probably overblown. We've got a general manager and a head coach there that we've got a lot of confidence in to get that ship righted.''
Loomis also is confident the Saints will figure out whether they need to change Brees' contract, which expires after next season and, if unaltered, would count about $30 million against the club's salary cap in 2016.
''I know this, Drew's going to be our quarterback,'' Loomis said, chuckling at the idea that the Saints would move on from a QB that passed for 4,870 yards and 32 TDs this season – even if Brees will be 37 next season.
Brees has said he would ''absolutely'' be interested in extension which could ease his contract's cap burden on the Saints by spreading the total over several more years.
''We'll figure out how we're going to handle the contract, whether it stays the same and just remains right in place, or whether we do something different,'' Loomis said. ''That's all part of what we've got to figure out in the next coming weeks.''
Loomis also disputed reports that the Saints' ability to improve their roster will be severely hampered by a handful of large contracts to players who never lived up to expectations, or in some cases, are no longer even with the team.
For example, the four-year, $41.5 million contract extension the Saints gave in 2014 to pass-rusher Junior Galette – who was released last offseason in large part because of behavioral matters off the field – will count around $12 million against the Saints' 2016 cap.
''I keep reading how we're in dire straits with the cap and this, that and the other. And, look, it's not a great cap situation. But it's not as dire as sometimes I think it's painted out to be,'' Loomis said. ''We know where we're at. We know what we have to do.''
Notes: Loomis disputed media reports that the Saints entered into talks with other teams about the possibility of releasing coach Sean Payton from his contract – which runs through 2017 – in exchange for draft picks. ''I never had discussions with another team'' about Payton's future, Loomis asserted. ''No one called me and I didn't call anyone.''
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