When you talk about some of the most dominating skill position players in the league, Jimmy Graham is probably one of the names that quickly pops up in your head. For the past few seasons, Jimmy Graham has dominated the league with his shear size, freakish athleticism and ability to make a big time play. This past season, NFL defenses were still trying to figure out how to stop Graham as he led tight ends in receptions, touchdowns, and receiving yards. He was also the only tight end in the NFL this season to reach the 1,000 yard receiving mark.
With his ability to completely control and dominate a defense, you would think that the Saints would try and lock up Graham for the long-term. With free agency looming, the Saints must begin to work on trying to sign him to a long-term deal. However, if worse comes to worse, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said the team wouldn’t hesitate to use their franchise tag on him.
“We’re going to franchise him if that’s necessary. We’re a long ways from that. I don’t know if it’s worth discussing right now,” Loomis recently said when addressing the media at Tuesday’s Senior Bowl practice.
The only question that would remain about Graham is whether or not he is a tight end or a wide receiver. With Graham taking more than 50 percent of his snaps at the wide receiver position, many are debating that Graham is actually a wide receiver and not a tight end; therefore, New Orleans must pay him as a wide-out. The difference in price in terms of the salary cap are actually quite substantial. Last season, the difference between the franchise tag salary was $10.5 million as opposed to $6 million.
But, really, this shouldn’t even be a topic of interest. Jimmy Graham is a tight end and Loomis hit it right on the mark. “Isn’t that what we drafted him as? Isn’t that what he made the Pro Bowl as?” Loomis said. “That’s what we see him as, a tight end. … That’s what makes him valuable.”
The Saints definitely have to figure out what they would like to do with Jimmy Graham. With the franchise tag deadline just over a month away (March 3rd), the Saints still have some time to negotiate with Graham. No matter what happens within the next few weeks, don’t expect the Pro-Bowl tight end to leave New Orleans anytime soon.
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