TE Jimmy Graham’s Retirement Decision Dependent On Saints’ Plans

Jimmy Graham returned to NFL action last season, doing so where his decorated career began. Another Saints season is a possibility for the veteran tight end, but whether he plays or retires in 2024 will depend on how the team proceeds.

The 37-year-old made 13 appearances last season, his sixth in New Orleans and first since 2014. Graham saw a career-low snap percentage (19%s), though, and he made only six catches during the year. While four of those were touchdowns, a similar workload would likely await him if he elected to continue playing in 2024.

Graham posted what appeared to be a farewell message to the Saints in March. That stopped short of a retirement announcement, however, and nothing has appeared to change on that front. The five-time Pro Bowler has plans for the offseason – including being a member of a team attempting to break the world record for the fastest time rowing across the Arctic Ocean – but he is still open to playing another year in New Orleans.

“I’m gonna reach out to the Saints and figure out what’s best, and then make the decision on when it’s best for me to retire,” Graham said (via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell). “I don’t have any expectations. I just want to make sure when I retire, it’s as a Saint, and it’s when they want me to. I’ll just make sure I give them a call and see exactly when they want me to retire and then I’ll end up doing it.”

While those comments point even further to Graham’s playing days being done, New Orleans could be shorthanded at the tight end position to begin the season. Juwan Johnson is facing a multi-week absence following foot surgery, and his Week 1 availability is now in question. The Saints have other replacement options on the books, but Graham could provide the team with an experienced red zone threat if they were open to a new deal.

If no such agreement is reached, though, Graham’s career will end with top-10 rankings amongst tight ends in a number of all-time statistical categories. He has amassed over $82MM in earnings, but it remains to be seen if that total will increase in 2024.

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