One of the biggest potential story lines of this off-season could be coming out of the New Orleans Saints’ front office.
Jimmy Graham’s rookie contract expired after last season and General Manager Mickey Loomis is dealt with the task of resigning the All-Pro Tight End. The only problem however is cap space. Since Jimmy Graham is a superstar, he is most likely going to require a lengthy and expensive deal to keep him in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.
Nonetheless, the Saints need to sign him to a long-term deal, and fast.
With the Saints current financial situation being what it is, in most cases a franchise tag for Jimmy Graham makes the most sense. With a franchise tag, Graham would be set to make the average salary of the top-5 players at his position in 2014.
The only problem is neither side can agree what position Graham technically plays.
The Saints are arguing that he’s a tight end because that’s how they use him in the offense. While Graham says he’s a wide receiver because he lined up at wide-out around 67 percent of his snaps last season.
Why does his position matter so much?
Well if Graham were to be classified as a wide receiver, he would be set to make nearly six million more than he would if he was labeled a tight end. It’s easy to see where both sides are coming from, but in the end, it seems like Graham is going to have the upper hand.
As an observing fan with no real financial stake in Jimmy Graham’s contract, it’s easy for me to sit behind my keyboard and say the Saints front office should do everything they can to lock him up for as long as possible. However, trying my best to look at it from the other side, it’s really hard for me to understand why they wouldn’t just go ahead and do it. He’s arguably one of the most lethal offensive weapons in the league right now, and he has put up numbers you would only expect from a number one receiver. The front office already made it clear they were all for making cap-room when they cut four defensive anchors that were apart of the Super XLIV team. Letting go of those guys was probably far from easy as I was sad to see all of those guys go. But, looking at the big picture, Graham is more important to the teams’ future success and the $16 million that were freed up were severely needed.
If they’re able to get things settled and work out a franchise tag deal with Graham, that will only be a band-aide to the situation. It would allow the Saints to sign draft picks, and hopefully some free agents, along with guaranteeing Graham is on the field in 2014. After that, all bets are off, and we could be seeing a repeat of this story next off-season.
Unfortunately, I see this battle going on for a while, as it appears neither side is willing to give in just yet. We can only hope that in the end, things will work out and number 80 will be on the field for the New Orleans Saints in 2014.