After seemingly months of drama, it’s finally over. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham broke the news himself Tuesday morning — the superstar got paid.
It's official I'm bleeding black and gold this morning! Thank you WhoDatNation for all the support.
— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) July 15, 2014
And he’s bleeding black and gold with good reason.
Saints are signing TE Jimmy Graham to a 4-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed, per source familiar with deal.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 15, 2014
That’s a big chunk of change — and the deal was struck just in time. Graham and the Saints had until 4:00 p.m. EST today to get a long term deal done, the deadline for franchise tagged players to sign long term contracts.
As anticipated the deal makes Graham the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, a title Graham had been very vocal in desiring. Graham had been in the process of appealing an arbitrator’s decision to classify him as a tight end for the purposes of a franchise tag, and prior to this deal he would have been roughly $7 million for this year.
The franchise tag is calculated by taking the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year, and knowing that on average tight ends are paid less than ANY OTHER POSITION on the field (minus kickers) Graham felt he was being under payed for his services. Luckily, the Saints brass agreed with him and inked him to that long-term deal today.
Graham, a First Team All-Pro a season ago, caught an NFL leading 16 touchdowns to go along with more than 1,200 yards.
It’s hard to tell how long this deal had been in the works and if the Saints had assured Graham privately that he would get his long term deal eventually.
Either way, the Big Easy can breath easy this morning.