INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL scouting combine is only partly about the NFL Draft.
With the entire league, essentially, together in downtown Indianapolis, teams meet with agents, woo free agents who were released by their teams and work on trades, like the one that will send Robert Quinn from the Rams to the Dolphins.
The New Orleans Saints have spent the week getting a good idea where their own free agents sit heading into the start of the league year on March 14.
"We spend the whole year with a pretty good idea of who the free agents are going to be, and our evaluations of them, so I don’t think we’re getting a lot of information about the class itself," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "I think you learn more about your own guys, the guys you’re trying to re-sign. I think you learn more about your opportunities to retain them. That’s what we focus on."
Loomis met with Drew Brees's agent, Tom Condon, on Thursday to begin talks that are expected to end with a new contract for Brees in New Orleans.
Other players are harder to read. Sources said safety Kenny Vaccaro will not be back, offensive lineman Senio Kelemete could return but will likely get offers to be a starter elsewhere and defensive end Alex Okafor is in the same boat as Kelemete despite suffering a torn Achilles.
New Orleans will likely be active in free agency once again, but the starting point is bringing back the players the Saints already have.
"Your own guys, you start with first and begin to say, here’s our palate, here’s the role, here’s the vision," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Some that you’re going to try to resign, some that you know are going to get to a market price. That’s pretty normal every year."