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Mickey Loomis: Jimmy Graham traded to fix defense

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The most surprising transaction in the craziest five minutes of NFL offseason history was the New Orleans Saints' willingness to part with Jimmy Graham eight months after making the All-Pro the highest-paid tight end in the league.

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It's easy to see the trade from the absolutely loaded Seattle Seahawks' point of view, as they addressed their biggest need by adding one of the NFL's most dangerous red-zone threats.

But why did the Saints throw in the towel on one of the game's dominant offensive talents?

General manager Mickey Loomis explained Tuesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Saints believed it was time to "make a bold move" on the heels of a disappointing 2014 season.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to this: We've had a good offensive team for a number of years," Loomis said. "We do well on that side of the ball, but we've got to improve ourselves on defense."

Acquiring one of the NFL's best centers won't directly help the defense, but Loomis also netted a first-round draft pick and salary-cap space.

"There's three ways to get players in our league," Loomis continued, "and that's through free agency, the draft and then trades. We kind of believe in using all avenues. So we took one of our assets on offense and turned it into some resources (that) hopefully we can improve our defense with."

Loomis' comments can also be viewed as a concession that the formerly pass-heavy Saints offense clicked best last season when it leaned on a rejuvenated Mark Ingram and the ground attack to set up Drew Brees' aerial fireworks.

While it makes sense to allocate resources toward a porous defense, the Saints have to hope they didn't forfeit too much offense in the process.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast analyzes early free agency news, including Ndamukong Suh to Miami, Devin McCourty's new deal and much more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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