The New Orleans Saints were never going to let Jimmy Graham go this offseason, as they were always fully expected to slap the franchise tag on their superstar tight end. A long-term deal before the 11th of March never seemed like a likelihood due to Graham’s huge asking price, so the franchise tag was the most logical outcome. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported yesterday that the Saints would indeed tag Graham before Monday’s deadline, and now his colleague Chris Mortensen reports that the Saints have given Graham the non-exclusive tag.
That means any team can send an offer for Graham, but it would likely have to be a huge one in order to prevent the Saints from matching the offer. Mickey Loomis and the organization have made it clear that keeping the 27-year-old Miami product around is a huge priority, so the Saints would really have to be forced to let him go (it would take an awful lot of money for that to happen). What makes this scenario even more unlikely is the fact that a team looking to “poach” Graham would have to give up two first-round picks, so I would be willing to guarantee that Graham plays for the Saints in 2014.
Any “drama” (using Mort’s description) created by this is pure speculation, because I doubt any team would be crazy enough to give the Saints two first-round picks and spend the money required to bring him on. Graham is incredibly talented, but even he isn’t worth two first-round picks and would would likely be a long-term deal worth at least $8 million a year.