By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says he isn't taking any of Drew Brees' recent complaints about the slow pace of contract negotiations personally.
"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."
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 on Tuesday, and Brees has said he would miss those, as well as minicamp and possibly training camp if 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."