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Jimmy Graham: I have to stop dunking on goal posts

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham decided to protest the NFL’s decision to ban dunking on the goal posts on Thursday night, and the result was two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after he found the end zone twice. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton chewed Graham out after the second penalty and told reporters after the game that he was upset with his tight end. Graham now sounds ready to give up his favorite celebration.

“For four years and however many touchdowns I always dunked it,” Graham said Sunday, per Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune. “I just got to stop doing that now.”

Graham, who literally bent the goal posts during a game against the Atlanta Falcons last season, is probably the reason the dunking celebration has been outlawed. While he said he wouldn’t take back Thursday’s dunks, he insisted he would never intentionally cost his team 15 yards during the regular season.

“I haven’t (been fined),” Graham said. “That’s just the rule, which is unfortunate because I just love the game. I have a lot of passion for the game. I go out there on Sunday and it’s fun for me. It’s just fun. Act like a little kid out there, and sometimes I act like it.”

Not surprisingly, it sounds like Payton has forgiven his franchise cornerstone.

“I’m his biggest fan,” Payton said. “I’m sure as we get going here that type of thing isn’t going to be a problem. Rules are changing constantly whether we like them or voted for them or any of those things. He’s outstanding. He’ll be ready to go.”

If the NFL is worried about Graham or anyone else bending the goal posts, they should reinforce them. The No Fun League needs more personality. Tell me Chad Johnson or Ochocinco or whatever you want to call him wasn’t entertaining when he was relevant. Let the entertainers entertain.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Sean Payton upset with Jimmy Graham over goal post dunks

The NFL has banned dunking on goal posts this season, and Jimmy Graham has already been very vocal in expressing his displeasure over the rule change. On Thursday night, the New Orleans Saints tight end decided to make a point by accepting two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after scoring touchdowns. Sean Payton was not pleased about it.

Graham caught five passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns in a preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. He dunked the ball on the goal posts both times he got into the end zone. Payton was asked if that made him “particularly upset.”

“Well, would that make sense? Would you be upset?” Payton said, via ESPN.com. “Yeah, I was. Particularly.”

After Graham’s second penalty, Payton ran over to him and was seen lacing into him. Both Graham and Calvin Johnson have said they still plan to dunk on the goal posts during the 2014 season, but we have to assume neither player will do it in the regular season.

Saints offensive lineman Zach Strief, who tried to calm Graham down during his argument with Payton, is operating under the same assumption.

“I understand Jimmy’s frustration with that rule change. I understand what he’s doing,” Strief said. “And yet it’s something, look, if this is a regular-season game, Jimmy’s not dunking over the goalpost. Coach Payton was completely, I think, correct to jump on him. Any of us, I think would expect it. I think Jimmy probably expected it.”

Had it not been for Graham bending the goal posts in a game against the Atlanta Falcons last season, the rule probably would not have gone into effect.

Jimmy Graham goal posts

Personally, I think the NFL is hurting their product by being too strict with celebration penalties. I get why Graham is angry about it, but I also understand Payton’s perspective. The preseason is supposed to simulate the regular season. Intentional penalties might make it harder for the coaching staff to evaluate players on special teams, with the ball being kicked from the 20 yard line instead of the 35. That’s probably why Payton was angry.

GIF via GIFD Sports

Jimmy Graham, Saints agree to long-term contract extension

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham may not have gone into his contract negotiaions with the New Orleans Saints in as strong a position as he would have liked, but I think he’ll still be able to put food on the table. According to Adam Schefter, Graham and the Saints agreed to a four-year, $41 million deal on Tuesday that includes $21 million guaranteed.

That contract would make Graham the highest-paid tight end in the league. Assuming the numbers are accurate, there are now only four wide receivers in the NFL who make more than Graham on an annual basis.

An arbitrator recently ruled that Graham is considered a tight end for franchise tag purposes, but he is not going to play under the franchise tag this season anyway. Graham would have made roughly $7 million as a tight end this season with the franchise tag and just over $12 million as a wide receiver, so it appears he and the Saints have found a happy medium.

Perhaps more importantly, Graham is just 27. Should he remain healthy over the next four years, he will be able to ink another big contract at age 31. The situation seems like a win for all parties involved.

Jimmy Graham officially labeled tight end for franchise tag purposes

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham is officially a tight end. The New Orleans Saints star can call himself anything he wants, but arbitrator Stephen Burbank announced on Wednesday that Graham will be treated as a tight end for franchise tag purposes. The news was first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The ruling is good for the Saints and bad for Graham. New Orleans can now franchise him as a tight end at $7.053 million as opposed to having to pay him the wide receiver franchise tag, which would be more than $12 million. Graham’s camp had filed a grievance arguing that he lines up as a wide receiver more often than he does as a tight end and should be treated accordingly in contract negotiations.

The Saints are said to have used Graham’s Twitter bio — in which he calls himself a tight end — against him as one of their arguments.

In addition to saving the Saints money against the cap if Graham ends up playing under the franchise tag in 2014, it also gives the team leverage in negotiations for a long-term contract extension. Graham and the Saints have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. New Orleans can now make him the highest-paid tight end in the league without having to pay him as much as the top receivers.

Saints to use Jimmy Graham’s Twitter bio against him in arbitration hearing

Jimmy Graham’s Twitter bio could come back to haunt him, if you can imagine that.

Graham and the Saints/NFL are in a dispute over how the All-Pro pass catcher should be labeled. The Saints placed the franchise tag on Graham and argue that he is a tight end. Graham says he should be considered a wide receiver since he lines up split 67 percent of the time according to ESPN Stats and Information.

The difference between what position Graham is considered is significant; the franchise tag for a tight end would cost around $7 million, and it’s over $12 million for wide receivers.

The Saints/NFL and Graham/NFLPA met for arbitration Tuesday over the issue. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport gave a preview of each side’s planned arguments.

So what’s wrong with Graham’s Twitter bio? He identifies himself as a tight end in it:

Jimmy Graham Twitter bio

Since Graham is more of a hybrid tight end, I think the fair solution would be to give him the median between the two amounts. Wouldn’t that be an easy fix?

H/T Awful Announcing

Jimmy Graham isn’t happy with the Saints’ offseason thus far

Jimmy GrahamThe New Orleans Saints’ offense is going to have a different look when the 2014 season rolls around.

Lance Moore, his 37 receptions, and 457 yards this past season were released on Friday. So was running back, and all-purpose extraordinaire, Darren Sproles. That’s another 220 rushing yards, 71 catches, and 604 receiving yards out the door.

Among those who will be suiting up for the Saints later this year is Jimmy Graham. Just because the two-time Pro Bowler is safe from the axe doesn’t mean he’s happy with what what has transpired to this point.

The two-time Pro Bowler took to his Twitter account Friday to express his displeasure with the way the offseason has unfolded thus far.

Graham, of course, had the franchise tag placed on him by the Saints and was designated as a tight end. The difference between being tagged as tight end compared to a wide receiver (which Graham would prefer) is a little over $5 million. That’s significant.

The possibility of Jimmy Graham and the Saints agreeing to a long-term contract extension does exist. Extra room under the salary cap would help make that a reality.

Jimmy Graham reportedly wants top-5 WR money

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham is looking to get paid, and that’s bad news for the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints and Graham could end up in a standoff this offseason because Graham is looking for a long-term contract from the team. New Orleans has already said that they will franchise tag Graham if the two sides are unable to agree on a deal. Graham has said he is not keen on the idea of the team tagging him.

One major dispute that could arise if the franchise tag becomes a real possibility is whether Graham is categorized as a wide receiver or tight end. The best wide receivers are paid more money than the best tight ends in the league — the difference in value of a franchise tag for a wide receiver and tight end last year was $4.5 million. Even though he was drafted as a tight end and is listed as a tight end, Graham lined up as a traditional tight end last year just one third of the time, according to Pro Football Focus. Graham was split out frequently as a wide receiver and reportedly will try to make the argument that he should be paid as a receiver.

According to NFL reporter Jason Cole and former sports agent Joel Corry, Graham wants top-five wide receiver money.

If Graham’s camp holds firm on that stance, there could be a huge dispute between the two sides. The Saints are already over the salary cap, so paying Graham an extra $4 million on the franchise tag would be a big deal.