When Saints general manager Mickey Loomis addressed the media today at his pre-draft press conference, he told reporters, including Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link), that there were no new updates on Jimmy Graham‘s contract situation. However, that quickly changed, as Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports the NFLPA has filed a grievance on behalf of Graham, related to his positional designation.
This step had been long anticipated by both sides, and it should help expedite the process. Graham’s tight end franchise tag is worth just $7.035MM, so if an arbitrator determines he should actually be in line for the wide receiver tag of $12.312MM, it will significantly affect leverage in long-term contract talks. It also may prompt the two sides to work out a compromise, particularly if it seems as though the decision could go either way.
Loomis also weighed in today on a few other Saints-related topics, so let’s turn to Holder, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett, and the Times-Picayune’s Katherine Terrell for the highlights (all links go to Twitter)….
- Of the 30 allowable pre-draft visits for NFL teams, the Saints used 29 to host prospects. Loomis also confirmed that the club had the opportunity to talk to every draftable player on its board.
- While other GMs have identified a few positions they’ll be targeting in the draft, Loomis balked at giving away any details on that, presumably attempting not to tip his hand regarding the Saints’ first-round pick.
- Asked about the decision to turn down Mark Ingram‘s fifth-year option, Loomis said it was purely a financial move and not a reflection of the team’s opinion of Ingram. Given the price tags we saw on running backs this offseason, it makes sense that New Orleans wouldn’t want to commit to Ingram on a $5MM+ salary for 2015.
- The Saints are always keeping an eye out for the potential successor to Drew Brees, but that doesn’t figure to be an area of focus this year.
- Although they have some candidates on the roster to return kicks, the Saints will be on the lookout for guys with return ability in the draft.
- There hasn’t been any increase in trade chatter between the Saints and other teams so far this week, according to Loomis. However, if the club decides to try to acquire extra picks in the draft, salary cap constraints shouldn’t be a concern.
- Asked about the team’s plans at center, Loomis was fairly noncommittal, suggesting that it’s difficult but not impossible for a rookie to come in and take over the starting job.