Tight end Jimmy Graham and the New Orleans Saints had been at odds for months over contract disputes, to the point where the NFL had to step in. Graham was attempting to cash in after his phenomenal season by claiming himself as a wide receiver as opposed to a tight end. Why? How about a salary difference of roughly five million dollars.
A franchise tag for wide receivers would allow a player to get paid around $12 million a year, while a tight end would get just $7 million. So there was reasoning behind Graham’s frustration and the 27-year-old tight end also had a valid argument.
Graham lined up as a wide receiver on two thirds of the Saints offensive snaps. On average, NFL tight ends lined up wide just 28 percent of the time. Those stats alone explain why Graham could be considered a wide receiver.
Saints head coach, Sean Payton and owner Mickey Loomis both argued against Graham during the hearings in court. This could very well have led to bad blood between Graham and New Orleans. But, with the ruling being that Graham is a tight end and the deadline fast approaching, the two sides came to an agreement. The team signed Graham to a record-breaking tight end deal that left both sides happy.
Graham’s four year, $40 million dollar deal, with $21 million guaranteed, will make him the highest paid tight end in the league's history. The contract surpasses Dallas Clark’s 2008 agreement with the Indianapolis Colts. It will also make the New Orleans Saints a legitimate contender to dethrone the Seahawks.
This signing shows great of maturity from the young tight end. Graham could have very easily dragged this thing out longer, until he got the wide receiver monye he wanted. However, this signing will leave no lingering animosity, and the franchise can now set its sights on making another Super Bowl run.