Today was the deadline for the New Orleans Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham to agree to a long-term deal, and this scenario was always expected to end in an amicable contract for both parties. Early this morning, Graham tweeted a thank you to Saints fans, which indicated that a deal had indeed been completed. Then, a Saints employee tweeted out that both sides have agreed to a multi-year deal, which is the only kind of deal that happens to star players before a franchise tag season (thus, I wanted to hold off on writing about the news until we received contractual details, which are of paramount importance).
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Saints and Graham have agreed to a four-year deal worth $40 million that will pay the 27-year-old $21 million in guaranteed money. Graham caught 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, and his ability to create mis-matches in the middle of the field as a joker tight end allows him to free up other players, and that will certainly help explosive rookie Brandin Cooks.
Graham wasn’t expected to win his appeal and get tagged as a wide receiver instead of a tight end, and the loss of his appeal ensured that both sides would agree to a long-term deal, which will pay Graham more annually. That said, it’s a fair deal for both sides, as that’s right in line with the kind of impact Graham has on the team, and the Saints have locked up one of the best weapons in the game for the prime of his career. Four years is also short enough to allow Graham to secure another sizeable payday after the contract runs out, because, barring anything unforeseen, he should still be a top playmaker, especially in the red zone.