Jimmy Graham’s Next Contract

Now that Jimmy Graham has been officially hit with the franchise tag, his next contract could go in a number of different directions. In normal situations, a franchised player has two options: either play the next season under the tag number for your position or continue to work on a long-term agreement.

However, for the Saints’ pass catcher, it is not so simple.Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk¬†outlined ten key points about the Graham situation, including the obvious controversy about which position Graham should be franchised as. Graham will argue that he lined up as a receiver more often than as a tight end, and the Saints will argue that all tight ends move around the formation, and no receiver actually lines up next to the tackle during a play.

Florio also notes that the two sides have until July 15 to come to terms on the long-term deal.

In signing a long-term extension, Graham will likely also argue that he should be paid like one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. Andrew Cohen of OvertTheCap.com¬†sees Rob Gronkowski‘s six year, $54MM deal as the baseline for his long-term negotiation. Still, he sees that Graham has better leverage as Gronkowski had two years left on his deal, with a much longer injury history and a smaller salary cap to work under.

Cohen also sees the possibility, while unlikely, that a team offers Graham a contract in the hopes that the Saints will not match. Though the team will have to send the Saints two first-round draft picks for the opportunity to pay Graham, he believes this could be a worthwhile decision for either the Dolphins or the Jets. Both teams have the salary cap space to offer a frontloaded contract with a big signing bonus, and he writes that they are unlikely to find a better offensive weapon in the draft.

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