Talks between the Saints and Jimmy Graham appeared to be essentially nonexistent leading up to Graham’s grievance hearing on his positional designation, but the team’s previous contract offer to the tight end still stands, as we heard last week. And with next Tuesday’s deadline looming, the Saints are expected to resume negotiations with Graham’s camp at some point this week, sources tell Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
While the 27-year-old could end up playing the 2014 season on his one-year franchise tag, it seems to be in both sides’ best interests to work out a longer-term deal that will keep the star pass-catcher in New Orleans for several years. However, the deadline for franchise players to reach multiyear agreements with their respective teams is July 15, so talks between Graham and the Saints will have to accelerate within the next week if the two sides hope to meet that deadline. Graham’s camp also still has the option of appealing arbitrator Stephen Burbank’s ruling to a three-person board, which would further complicate the chances of meeting that deadline.
According to multiple reports, the Saints are willing to make Graham the highest-paid tight end in football, exceeding Rob Gronkowski‘s $9MM annual figure. Although Graham almost certainly won’t attain the $12MM average annual value he was initially seeking, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the two sides ultimately compromised on a per-year figure in the neighborhood of $10MM.