Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. Three months ago, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis sat in the stands of Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium and answered questions about quarterback Drew Brees, saying if a deal didn't get done with the Pro Bowl quarterback, he should be out of a job.

But hours before the first round of the NFL Draft, Loomis and the Saints had yet to come to an agreement with Brees.

And with all due respect to the bounty and eavesdropping scandals, Loomis said one thing looms bigger for the franchise.

'I recognize that the most important issue facing the New Orleans Saints is getting Drew Brees under contract,' Loomis said.

He added, 'I get that this is the most important contract I've negotiated.'

So, does that mean a deal is imminent?

Likely not, but Loomis hopes soon rather than later.

'Tomorrow or maybe an hour from now,' he said. 'That would be a good first-round pick for us instead of just sitting there all night.'

The Saints and Brees are still millions of dollars apart in coming to terms on a contract that would keep the quarterback in New Orleans for years.

Loomis appeared confident, however, that a deal will get finished. He understands, he said, that this isn't the normal negotiation.

'Drew has earned the right to negotiate this contract,' Loomis said. 'I respect that. It's a personal issue for any player, their contract, and it's more of a business issue for me and I've got to balance those things here because really, I consider Drew a good friend, not just the quarterback of our team.'

For much of this offseason, the volume of fans' discontent with Loomis has grown exponentially, at least in regard to not getting Brees signed.

Loomis, though, had a message for those worried that this will spiral out of control.

'My goal and Drew's goals are the same,' Loomis said. 'It's to get him a contract that he feels good about and gives our team the best opportunity to compete for a championship. It will get done.'

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