Jimmy Graham

Latest On TE Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham returned to the Saints on a one-year deal last summer. That came amongst speculation his career was over since he sat out the previous campaign, and once again his playing future is in question.

Graham posted a lengthy message on Instragram Friday. While it stops short of declaring his retirement, the decorated tight end used it to reflect on his time in the NFL, particularly his two separate stints in New Orleans. Graham, 37, is a free agent but it remains to be seen if he will suit up for the 2024 campaign.

“To the city of New Orleans, there are no words to fully express my appreciation for your unwavering support,” Graham’s statement reads in part. “Playing for this city was an honor that transcended the game of football. It was never just about the sport or a paycheck. It was about being part of a community that breathes and lives for football, a community that finds joy, solace and unity in the game.”

After entering the league in 2010, the former third-rounder quickly established himself as one of the league’s top tight ends. Graham earned three Pro Bowl invitations during his five-year stretch in New Orleans from 2010-14, along with a first-team All-Pro nod. The latter honor came in 2013, a season in which he totaled 1,215 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdown receptions.

Graham toured the NFC following the Saints’ decision to trade him. He spent three seasons with the Seahawks, followed by a pair of campaigns with the Packers and Bears. The Miami alum remained a starter and strong red zone threat through much of that time, but he sat out the 2022 season amidst interest from the Saints in a reunion. His low-cost New Orleans deal came after he decided to return to where his career began and put off retirement by at least one year in the process.

“As I look back, I am filled with pride for what we’ve accomplished together,” Graham added. “The city of New Orleans and the Saints organization have given me more than I could ever ask for. I hope I’ve been able to contribute to that legacy in some way.”

While the message notes Graham is “unsure of what the future holds,” his comments certainly suggest a retirement decision will be coming at some point this offseason. He played a small rotational role with the Saints last season, making just six catches (although four of them were touchdowns). The same would likely be true next campaign if he and the team were to reach agreement on another one-year pact.

Presuming Graham hangs up his cleats, his NFL career will end with a number of impressive statistical totals. He currently sits seventh on the all-time tight ends list for receptions (719), eighth in yards (8,545) and fourth in touchdowns (89). Graham has amassed over $82MM in career earnings.

Saints’ Jimmy Graham Arrested In California

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was arrested last night in California, according to a statement from the team (via Twitter). TMZ Sports was first with the news. The Saints are currently in California preparing for tomorrow’s preseason game against the Chargers.

[RELATED: TE Jimmy Graham Addresses Saints Reunion]

In their statement, the Saints attributed the incident to a “medical episode.”

“New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham experienced a medical episode last evening, which resulted in him becoming disoriented,” according to the statement. “He was taken into custody by local authorities and transported to a local hospital for evaluation for what Dr. John Amoss believes to be a likely seizure and spent the night under medical supervision and testing. Amoss met Graham at the hospital and is overseeing his care at this time. He was released this morning and is with the team as they continue preparations for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.”

Per the TMZ report, officers responded to a call regarding a “suspicious person acting erratically.” Police found Graham “wandering in traffic” near a Southern California resort, and when officers attempted to arrest the athlete, Graham resisted.

The NFL veteran was ultimately arrested for “suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and resisting, delaying and obstructing a police officer.” Both of those charges are misdemeanors. Graham has since been released from custody and the incident is under investigation.

After going unsigned during the 2022 season, Graham signed a one-year deal with the Saints in late July. The deal reunited Graham with the franchise that selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft. The tight end ultimately spent five years in New Orleans, hauling in 51 touchdowns in 78 games. Graham has since had stints with the Seahawks, Packers, and Bears. He most recently got into 15 games (six starts) for Chicago in 2021, finishing with 14 catches for 167 yards and three scores.

Graham was already facing an uphill battle to make the Saints’ roster. The team already has three clear TEs atop the depth chart, including incumbent Juwan Johnson, free agent addition Foster Moreau, and Swiss Army Knife Taysom Hill. We’ll see how last night’s incident impacts his roster status.

TE Jimmy Graham Addresses Saints Reunion

Jimmy Graham‘s career appeared to be over when he sat out the 2022 campaign, but he began the comeback process last week when he signed a deal with the Saints. That reunion allowed the All-Pro tight end to return to where his career began, something he said was necessary for him to avoid retirement.

Graham signed for $1.3MM (just over the veteran minimum) to compete for a spot on New Orleans’ 53-man roster out of training gamp. That deal marked the culmination of a lengthy courtship process on the team’s part. The Saints discussed a reunion with Graham multiple times, including last year, as noted by ESPN’s Katherine Terrell. Their most recent efforts will allow the 36-year-old the opportunity to put off retirement for the time being.

“I had a couple of teams that were reaching out, all teams that made the playoffs,” Graham said, via Terrell. “I just couldn’t see myself wearing another jersey again. I just wanted, hopefully, if there was ever another opportunity to come back home, to make it happen. It did, and I’m here now… I talked to [agent] Jimmy Sexton and just made it clear if I don’t retire as a Saint, then I wasn’t going to play again.”

Graham spent his first five years in New Orleans, a stretch which included his two most productive campaigns (2011 and 2013). He earned three Pro Bowl nods and his lone first-team All-Pro acclaim with the Saints, before being traded to the Seahawks in 2015. The former third-rounder spent three years in Seattle before playing two years each with the Packers and Bears.

The end of his stint in Chicago appeared to mark the conclusion of Graham’s playing career, but mutual interest with the Saints obviously remained through his idle 2022 season. The team has a number of other options at the position (including Juwan Johnson, Foster Moreau and Taysom Hill), so Graham will need to demonstrate a continued ability to produce in the red zone in particular to turn his hopes of a Saints reunion into a reality. A strong season could help the team return to the playoffs, while allowing him to finish his career where it started.

Saints Sign G Trai Turner, Reunite With TE Jimmy Graham

JULY 28: Graham has earned more than $81MM during his 12-year career, but he will attempt to earn a Saints roster spot on a deal near the league minimum. The Saints are giving Turner the veteran minimum and Graham $1.3MM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson and WWL-TV’s Brooke Kirchhofer (Twitter links). Graham will see a $153K guarantee, per Spotrac, while Turner’s NFL service-time bracket makes his league-minimum payment $1.17MM. Recently signed guard Max Garcia also received league-minimum money from New Orleans, Wilson tweets.

JULY 25: Tuesday has brought a new face to the Saints’ offensive line along with a familiar one to its tight end group. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that guard Trai Turner is signing in New Orleans, while the team announced the signing of Jimmy Graham on a one-year contract.

The news represents a homecoming for Turner (who conducted a free agent visit yesterday), and a depth addition to the Saints’ interior O-line. The 30-year-old was one of the top guards in the NFL during his time with the Panthers, earning a Pro Bowl nod each season between 2015 and 2019. His career has seen him bounce around since then, however, with one-year Chargers, Steelers and Commanders tenures.

The LSU alum battled injuries in Los Angeles, leading to his release following the 2020 season. He inked a $3MM deal in Pittsburgh, then secured a contract with the same terms last year in Washington. Turner worked as the team’s right guard starter to begin the season, but he was benched in favor of Saahdiq Charles for Week 5. In spite of that move, the veteran wound up seeing a 69% snap share over the course of the season in the nation’s capital, and he will look to earn another starting position with his hometown team.

New Orleans has Cesar Ruiz and Andrus Peat in place as their guard starters, though both have dealt with injuries in their career. Veteran swingman James Hurst is also a starting option on the inside, so Turner will have plenty of competition in training camp as he looks to carve out a role and re-establish his value. Like the offensive line, the team’s TE competition will be worth watching closely.

Graham began his career in New Orleans, earning three Pro Bowl nods and one All-Pro honor across five Saints seasons. He recorded 4,752 yards and 51 touchdowns during that span, leading the league in the latter category with 16 scores in 2013. His time as a favored Drew Brees target came to an end when he was traded to the Seahawks, a deal which began a series of moves around the NFC.

Graham remained productive during his time in Seattle, recording a 900-yard season in 2016 and earning two more Pro Bowl invitations. His production dipped during his two-year stints in Green Bay and Chicago, however, and his $16MM deal signed with the latter team came as a surprise to many. After the end of the 2020 season, Graham contemplated retirement but instead remained in the Windy City for one more year.

He recorded just 14 catches in 2021, however, and spent the past year out of the NFL. Now 36, Graham will need to prove a continued red zone ability to earn a spot with his original team. New Orleans has incumbent Juwan Johnson, free agent signing (and cancer survivorFoster Moreau and Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill at the top of the depth chart. Graham thus faces a steep challenge to make the 53-man roster out of training camp.

The 2023 season will be the start of the Derek Carr era on offense in New Orleans. Both Turner and Graham could play a complementary role for the unit if they remain healthy and productive over the next several weeks, but at a minimum their additions represent a feel-good move in both cases.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/21

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Tennessee Titans

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: P Brett Kern

Free agents

Contract Restructures: Graham, Nassib, Ryan

With the start of Week 1 quickly approaching, NFL front offices are still finding ways to open some cap space. A handful of players restructured their contracts today, and we’ve compiled some of the notable transactions below:

  • TE Jimmy Graham, Bears: Converted $5.825MM of salary into signing bonus, opening $4.66MM in cap space while also adding four voidable years to contract (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). The veteran inked a two-year, $16MM deal with the Bears prior to last season, and he finished his first season in Chicago with 50 receptions for 456 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • DE Carl Nassib, Raiders: Converted $2.51MM of salary into a signing bonus, opening $2.008MM in cap space (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). Nassib inked a three-year, $25MM deal (including $16.75MM guaranteed) with the Raiders last offseason. The 28-year-old got into 14 games (five starts) during his first season in Las Vegas, finishing with 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and nine QB hits.
  • DB Logan Ryan, Giants: Converted “most of the base salary” into signing bonus (per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). The veteran was set to earn around $5.5MM this upcoming season. After inking a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason, Ryan signed a three-year, $31MM extension (with $20MM guaranteed) in December. After switching from cornerback to safety, Ryan finished his first season in New York with 94 tackles, three forced fumbles, nine passes defended, and one interception.
  • OT Duane Brown, Seahawks: Converted $7MM of base salary into signing bonus, saving the team $3.5MM in cap space. After skipping training camp in pursuit of an extension, we learned earlier today that the veteran lineman got an extra year tacked onto his contract. Indeed, as veteran reporter John Clayton points out, Brown got an extra year “with an injury protection benefit for 2022.”

Jimmy Graham Considered Retirement; Bears Wanted TE To Return

Following the Bears’ one-sided playoff loss to the Saints, Jimmy Graham debated stepping away from football after 11 NFL seasons. Bears decision-makers intervened to convince him to stay.

The veteran tight end briefly considered retirement, but Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace persuaded him to return, Adam Jahns of The Athletic tweets. Although Graham did not sound like he needed too much convincing to come back, the Bears still have the 34-year-old target in their plans.

Given a two-year deal worth $16MM (to the surprise of many) in March 2020, Graham helped a Bears team that had swung and missed on a few tight ends during the Pace regime. He caught 50 passes for 476 yards and eight touchdowns — his most TDs since 2017. The 6-foot-7 tight end added a score in the Bears’ playoff loss. While Graham is past his prime, he could well help Andy Dalton and Justin Fields as an auxiliary weapon.

The five-time Pro Bowler is due a $6.9MM base salary, and his cap number spikes to $10MM in 2021. Only Zach Ertz, whom the Eagles are expected to jettison, has a higher 2021 cap number ($12.7MM) among tight ends. The Bears also used a second-round pick on Cole Kmet last year. Nevertheless, Graham appears set to stay on as one of Allen Robinson‘s aerial sidekicks this coming season.

The former Saints, Seahawks and Packers tight end has totaled 82 career touchdown catches — fourth in NFL history among tight ends. Only Antonio Gates (116), Tony Gonzalez (111) and Rob Gronkowski (86) have more.

The Only NFL Players With No-Trade Clauses

It’s fairly common for disgruntled NFL players to give their teams a short list of acceptable trade destinations. However, it’s still quite rare for players to hold contractual veto power over a trade. Currently, there are only nine NFL players with a no-trade clause in their deals, as ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets

▪️ Drew Brees, QB (Saints)
▪️ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OL (Chiefs)
▪️ Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers)
▪️ Jimmy Graham, TE (Bears)
▪️ DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals)
▪️ Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs)
▪️ Deshaun Watson, QB (Texans)
▪️ J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals)
▪️ Russell Wilson, QB (Seahawks)

The Chiefs, who represent 25% of the list, furnished LDT with a NTC as a part of his contract restructure. Historically, there haven’t been many offensive lineman to secure the clause. However, Duvernay-Tardif had a bit of leverage in 2020 when the Chiefs needed extra cap room. He was scheduled to count for nearly $9MM, $6.45MM of which was comprised of base salary. Instead, he converted some of that money into a signing bonus over the remaining three years and came away with a perk typically reserved for quarterbacks.

Watson and Wilson are among the QBs who can block trades. They’re both putting it to use, albeit in different ways. Watson wants out — even after finally meeting with new head coach David Culley – and he’s steering himself towards a small group of teams, including the Dolphins and Panthers. Wilson, meanwhile, says that he doesn’t want to get traded and doesn’t expect to get traded. But, if the Seahawks do shop him, he wouldn’t mind joining up with the Bears, Cowboys, Saints or Raiders. In beating out several other teams for Watt, the Cardinals included the clause in the star defender’s contract.

Bears Notes: Desai, Robinson, Massie, Skrine

Earlier this week, Sean Desai met with the media for the first time since being promoted to the role of defensive coordinator. While the 37-year-old will take over a defense that has ranked as a top-10 DVOA unit in each of the past three seasons, they’ve also seen some regression since peaking in 2018. However, Desai doesn’t believe the defensive needs a significant overhaul.

“I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune up,” Desai said (via the team’s website). “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here.”

“There was some regression, and we’re going to overcome that,” Desai added. “But we’re going to do it in a positive way and we’re going to do it where the players are going to be able to shine through that defense. So I think we’ll build some depth and we’ll continue with our tough, physical mindset of play and do that over a 16- to 20-week season.”

Some more notes out of Chicago…

  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that the Bears are “prepared” to tag wideout Allen Robinson with the hope of eventually signing him to a long-term deal. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that it will be difficult to fit a franchised Robinson into a reduced 2021 cap, but the writer also admits that replacing Robinson would be a more daunting task.
  • Speaking of the cap, Biggs provided some cost-cutting options for the Bears. The team could move on from right tackle Bobby Massie, although that would open a spot on the offensive line. Cornerback Buster Skrine could also lose his roster spot, especially since he has a $500K roster bonus due in March. Finally, Biggs also whether the front office will be receptive to paying tight end Jimmy Graham $7MM this season.
  • As for restructured contracts, Biggs points to pass rusher Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson, and he notes that the team could also extend cornerback Kyle Fuller. Alternatively, the team could look to retain free agents like Cairo Santos and Cordarrelle Patterson on low-money pacts.
  • Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic passed along a few Bears players who have increased their 2021 salaries via proven performance escalators (Twitter links): defensive end Bilal Nichols (from $920K to $2.183MM) and guard James Daniels ($1.437MM to $2.183MM),. Their new salaries are contingent on the final 2021 cap number.

Bears To Sign Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham has found a new home, and he’s staying in the NFC North. The tight end is signing a two-year deal with the Bears, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s a $16MM pact for Graham, with $9MM of that guaranteed. ESPN’s Field Yates has more details and notes that the deal includes some incentives and a rare no-trade clause (Twitter link).

The Packers cut Graham last week to avoid paying him the final year of the three-year, $30MM deal he signed with Green Bay in 2018. Graham established himself as one of the best offensive weapons in the game during his time with the Saints, having four straight seasons with at least 889 yards from 2011-14. A third-round pick back in 2010, Graham has made five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams.

He was traded to the Seahawks for a first-round pick in 2015, and his effectiveness started to dip after that. He had ten touchdowns in 2017 and was still a great redzone threat, but had only 520 yards. He got the big deal from the Packers but was a disappointment, only racking up 447 yards last season.

He’s been a warrior and has managed to play in all 16 games in four straight seasons, but he’s dealt with a seemingly never-ending string of minor injuries that have reduced his effectiveness physically. Now 33, it’s anyone’s guess as to what he’ll look like in 2020. Still, he should be an upgrade for the Bears, who haven’t had anything consistent at the position in years despite multiple attempts to address it. They gave a big contract to Trey Burton last offseason, and while they hope to still see a return on that investment, the deal for Graham suggests that Chicago doesn’t have a ton of confidence in Burton at this point.