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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.

Michael Bennett: Jimmy Graham is soft and overrated

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham was a total non-factor in the New Orleans Saints’ 23-15 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, leading one Seahawks defender decided to run a little wild with the postgame trash talk.

After the game, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who had six tackles and a half sack in the win, called Graham “soft” and the most overrated player in the NFL, as Mike Freeman noted.

Graham had just 1 catch for 8 yards and was only targeted six times because of all the coverage the Seahawks had on him. They did a great job taking him out of the game and deserve credit for it. But let’s be real: Graham has been one of the best at his position for the past three seasons. You don’t catch 86 balls for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns — as Graham did this season — by being overrated.

The comments from Bennett are obviously excessive, but clearly Seattle was pleased with the way they took Graham out of the game. And the soft comment has to do with Graham getting into a fight with the Seahawks before the game:

And what can we say about Bennett? He just seemed to be in a great mood all game:

GIFs via GIFD Sports, Tiger Droppings

Jimmy Graham gets into shouting match with Seahawks before game

Emotions are typically running high when the first whistle blows to signal the start of an NFL playoff game. For Jimmy Graham, the adrenaline was pumping more than an hour before game time on Saturday as the New Orleans Saints prepared to take on the Seattle Seahawks.

Graham got into a shouting match with several Seahawks players during pregame warmups. It seemed like the Pro Bowl tight end was upset that some of the Seahawks players were crowding his space while he was getting loose.

Jimmy-Graham-Seahawks

The dust-up apparently started when Graham smacked Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin’s hat off his head.

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