The Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham remain several million dollars apart per season in contract negotiations, sources tell Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Sources indicate that New Orleans is willing to make Graham the highest paid tight end in the NFL while Graham wants roughly $12MM per year (link). The Saints have told Graham that they’ll eclipse the $9MM per year that Rob Gronkowski got from the Patriots, but that’s not enough for the 27-year-old.
Despite the sizable gap in talks, there’s next to zero chance of Graham hitting the open market. The Saints are expected to extend the franchise tag to Graham if they cannot come to terms on a brand-new multi-year pact. The franchise tag, however, could leave Graham with a bad taste in his mouth. Even though Graham is widely regarded as a tight end, he believes that he should be paid as a wide receiver given that he lined up at WR for nearly two-thirds of his snaps last season. It’s also worth noting that with 86 catches for 1215 yards in a season where he was dealing with injury, he certainly offers wide receiver-type production.
A recent PFR poll showed that most readers believe Graham should be tagged as a TE if he does not reach agreement on a new contract with the Saints.