The New Orleans Saints just endured their worst season since their 7-9 campaign in 2016, but executive vice president and general manager Mickey Loomis’ only plans to move a head coach involve a former one.
Although Saints defensive coordinator-turned-head coach Dennis Allen led New Orleans to a 7-10 record in his first season at the helm, they did win three of their last four to stay in the thick of a weak NFC South until the penultimate week of the season, and Loomis has started preaching the same dedication to stability that played a part in promoting Allen from within in the first place.
“One of the things that we’ve had going for us for the past 15 years, whatever it’s been, is stability,” Loomis told reporters Friday. “I think that’s a commodity that’s hard to come by in the NFL. So, I’m looking for stability and that obviously starts with ownership and GM and head coach and having a core group of players that you nurture and develop. And so that’s the attitude that we have and that’s the process and that’s the things that we believe in and. So, I’m expecting to continue that.”
With Loomis’ endorsement, Allen appears set to remain for a second year.
There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead for the Loomis, Allen and the Saints. New Orleans heads into the offseason with the league’s most dire salary cap situation and, thanks to a trade with the Eagles, no 2023 first-round pick. The team is currently spending $271.3 million heading into 2023, per Over the Cap. Although NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported in December that the new league salary cap could potentially exceed $220 million, that would still leave a ton of hypothetical work to do.
There is also no clear answer at quarterback, and although the defense ranked top-10 in both points and yards allowed for the third straight season, cornerstones like Demario Davis and Cameron Jordan will both be 34 entering next year’s training camp.
Of course, one massive option to bring an influx of cheap talent to the roster is right around the corner.
Former head coach Sean Payton, who departed the club following the 2021 season but is still contract-controlled by the Saints through the 2024 season, has loomed large in the latest coaching cycle.
The Cardinals, Broncos and Texans have all requested interviews with him. Loomis has no intention to stand in the way of Payton moving to another organization, but he has made it clear he expects to receive appropriate value — in the form of draft picks or otherwise — should he allow the franchise’s greatest coach to take over another team.
“I want the best for him,” Loomis said. “I do. We do, collectively as an organization. He gave everything that he could possibly give to the New Orleans Saints and took us to heights that the organization and team never achieved before. So, I absolutely want the best for him. But I also recognize that he’s a valuable asset. His contract is a valuable asset to our club, and it’s our duty to maximize that. Look, I think between the quarterback of the team and a head coach, no one impacts winning more than those two guys in any building. So, I know what he brings to the table, and I know that’s really valuable. And it’s our obligation to maximize that value if he chooses to coach again within that time frame where we have those rights.”
The heights Payton led the organization to — its first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2009, plus a 152-89 record, seven NFC South crowns and nine postseason trips in 15 seasons — translate favorably for the compensation New Orleans can hope to receive for him.
“We haven’t settled on exactly what the compensation is going to be yet,” Loomis said regarding the teams with interest in Payton. “They’re well aware that there is going to be compensation.”
Whatever the eventual price, one thing remains clear: As Allen returns for 2023, the head coach who helped bring about New Orleans’ most-prolonged period of success will likely be partly responsible for the building blocks available in the Saints’ quest to usher in their next great era.