Bradley Handwerger / Sports Writer


When the sun rose Wednesday over the bayous of southern Louisiana, you had to wonder why the Saints hadn't made another transaction, why we hadn't heard about another eyebrow raising free agency grab.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has been that good and that busy this past week.

Yes, in 144 hours, Loomis has done more with Tom Benson's money and the hearts of so many Saints fans than anyone could ever have expected when the lockout ended July 25.

Together with Saints coach Sean Payton, Loomis has identified where the team needed to upgrade and thrown darts at bull's-eyes, hitting center every time he needed to.

Need to get rid of Reggie Bush and get something back for it? No problem, just make a middle of the night deal with the Miami Dolphins that includes compensation as well as a special teams player who can immediately help.

Need to find a replacement for Bush? No problem, just poll quarterback Drew Brees, find out Darren Sproles is the real deal and sign him.

Need to beef up the interior of the defensive line? No problem, just find a way to sign a player who is widely regarded as one of the top free agent defensive linemen on the market, Aubrayo Franklin.

New Orleans also has signed Clint Ingram at linebacker, Shaun Rogers at defensive tackle, Will Herring at linebacker and Korey Hall at fullback, to name a few, at positions of need.

No, this isn't your daddy's Saints.

We found that out two seasons ago when Payton led New Orleans to its first ever Super Bowl and NFL championship.

But a season ago, you could say the Super Bowl hangover won out. Though 11-5 in the regular season, the Saints rarely looked like the world-beaters they were a season earlier and bowed out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round to a Seattle team with a losing record.

The Saints made no big signings going into 2010. They barely made moves, basically just tendering restricted free agents and sitting back.

The league caught up.

Now it appears that was a one-year anomaly.

Loomis and Payton are showing they and the team should have staying power. With Green Bay remaining one of the best teams in the NFC and the Philadelphia Eagles on a spending spree, it's apparent that the Saints aren't just going to let others pass them by.

There's a bit of a win-now look to these moves.

But as those on the inside have said, Loomis and Payton are planners. They already know what practice will be like tomorrow and what's for lunch Saturday.

So they've also been looking to the future with the roster.

Lance Moore signed long-term. So did Sproles. Rookies Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan are in for at least four years. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod is back for at least two years.

Certainly the new acquisitions have to perform on the field up to expectations for these moves to mean something.

Nevertheless, Loomis and Payton should be applauded for their efforts in trying to keep New Orleans on top of the NFL world.

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