With the deadline looming, the New Orleans Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham came to terms on a four-year extension worth $40 million. Even though that total might be less than a lot of people thought, it is actually a win-win for everyone involved. New Orleans is able to bring back their top target on offense, and Graham will have a chance to cash in a little bit later in his career.
Going into the 2014 season, no tight end in fantasy football is going to be anywhere close to Graham as far as production is concerned. In fact, it is his wide receiver-like production that made the extension difficult. Graham thought that since he put wide receiver numbers, he should be paid like one. However, an arbitrator ruled that he was still in fact a tight end, so his bargaining power went down.
New Orleans obviously did not want to break the bank in order to keep just one player around. Even though he is very productive, New Orleans knows that they can’t win a championship without enough financial flexibility to round out the roster. Only having to pay him $40 million in total and $21 million guaranteed will give them flexibility to continually build around Drew Brees on offense (not to mention the much improved defense).
Many might be quick to say that Graham lost out on the deal. However, instead of having to sign a deal that could have lasted 7 years, Graham has a little bit more wiggle room by only being locked in for four more seasons. A lot can change in that amount of time, including the quarterback situation since Brees is getting up there in age. By only being locked in for an additional 4 years, he has a chance to cash in big time one final time before he is out of his prime.
It was a sticky situation that took quite a bit of time to figure out, but at the end of the day this is probably the best deal possible for both parties. Graham is still getting paid very well, and he won’t be forced to spend the rest of his prime in New Orleans if he doesn’t want to. For New Orleans, they stay competitive as a franchise that could put together a Super Bowl.
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